Fury over Council Go Ahead for Imperial "Folly" on Wood Lane

Campaigners call on Boris to intervene over Shard of the West

Campaigners have reacted angrily to Hammersmith and Fulham Council's approval of plans to build a "massive development scheme" - which they warn may be unlawful - at a former BBC site on Wood Lane in White City.

The plans include seven buildings, ranging from five storeys to a massive 35 storey tower, which has been dubbed the "Shard of the West" because of its similarity to the new skyscraper at London Bridge.

Local residents, including members of the St Helens Residents Association have been fighting a long battle against the development, which they call Imperial Folly, saying it " will be remembered for many years for destroying the western skyline for all those living in this part of London".

And following the council decision, they are calling on Mayor Boris Johnson to intervene, warning that if he does not, "the Greater London Authority risk joining thre London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham as co defendants to a Judicial Review application".

On July 25, plans to regenerate the 5.22 acre site, formerly called Woodlands, were approved by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, who said it would create 3,150 jobs and deliver £8million in community benefits.

The development is the second phase of a wider regeneration project by the university that will have research and teaching buildings, notably a public school of health and ‘start-up’ space for new hi-tech businesses along with a range of homes to complement the first phase postgraduate accommodation.

As well as the academic campus, there will be an underground car park and a hotel with a gym, restaurant, bar and conference facilities, built around a new public square that will be bigger than Parliament Square in Westminster. The 4,000sq m of green space at the heart of the development will have objects and sculptures that children are also able to play with.

Imperial West CGI

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, said: " This development was approved on its own merits and met all planning criteria, as laid out in the council’s and mayor of London’s planning policies.

" It signals a huge opportunity for residents and businesses in the borough."

As part of a legal agreement with the council, known as a Section 106 agreement, £8million will be reinvested into the area, including £2.4million towards the Cross Rail project and £4million for an east-west pedestrian link set to be built under the West London rail line.

The council says the remainder of the money will be ploughed into improvements to the local highways including the junction with Wood Lane and way-finding signposts, planting trees on Eynham Road and putting crime prevention measures in place in Wood Lane, DuCane Road and the Bentworth Triangle. It will also make financial contributions to other supporting infrastructure required in the White City Opportunity Area.

Imperial College London has also agreed to develop educational links with the two nearest schools, Burlington Danes Academy and Phoenix High School, and will allow the schools to use some of their facilities.

Campaigners against the scheme have responded the council decision by releasing this statement:

Despite strong protests and objections, a London council has given approval to a massive
development scheme that local residents groups warn may be unlawful.

After two and a half hours of debate, the Conservative majority on Hammersmith and Fulham
Council pushed through approval for a further phase of development on the Woodlands site
on Wood Lane in West London.

Imperial College acquired the site from the BBC in 2009. It has since built four blocks of stu-
dent accommodation. In late 2011 the college applied for planning permission for further de-
velopment, including a 35-storey block of flats, a hotel and 12 storey office buildings.

Woodlands Area Residents and the St Helens Residents Association oppose the plans. They
argue that council planning policies do not provide permission for such tall buildings on the
site, which is adjacent to residential streets and a conservation area in neighbouring Ken-
sington and Chelsea.

" The council and the GLA gave Imperial an informal green light to these proposals two years
ago," says Henry Peterson, Chair of the St Helens Residents Association. " They are now
struggling to justify a massive overdevelopment which makes no sense at this location.
Some of the things said by planning officers at the committee meeting were greeted with
laughter and disbelief by a large audience."

Residents associations say they are now considering the case for legal review. This follows a similar case in the borough where a judge recently ruled that the council had not followed the correct  planning procedures.

Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith and the Shadow Minister for Justice, has
lent strong support to these local campaigns to protect the rights of residents. He attended
the committee meeting and said: "I'm delighted that people across the borough are fighting
back and I will do all I can to support Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and West Kensington
residents against the wreckers in the Town Hall."

The Imperial West scheme was drawn up by architecture firms Aukett Fitzroy Robinson and  PLP Architecture and falls within the White City Opportunity Area. Works are nearing completion on the first phase, with Phase 2 due to start early next year.


August 6, 2012