The trees in our streets are in blossom. They remind us why the St Helens area is a much loved part of London in which to live.
The threat of the Council installing an all-weather fenced and floodlit football pitch in Memorial Park has passed. The Council accepted the outcome of local consultation, with a strong majority of respondents against the idea. The proposal has been dropped. Refurbishment of the grass pitch, and improvements to some of the parks buildings, should get underway soon.
The Association was part of a successful campaign to convince the Council that such a pitch was not in great demand locally, and would take away space from other park users.
Imperial College’s new buildings in Wood Lane are making their presence increasingly felt . The 35 storey residential tower rises week by week. Back in 2011, when Imperial first submitted their plans, the association produced some images using the software Sketchup to show what the impact would be on Oxford Gardens.
We were told at the time that these were alarmist, but they look now to have been pretty accurate (see the images below). Both the I-HUB building (red terracotta tiles) and the apartment tower will sit smack in the centre of the view along Oxford Gardens, from Ladbroke Grove to Latimer Road. Gone are the days when our neighbourhood had clear skylines to the west and felt like the edge of the city.
The tower, still less than half its final height, is emerging in the centre of the photo to the right.
The College has re-branded its ‘Imperial West’ development as ‘White City Campus’. Many local residents will have received a copy of the first issue of what is promised to be a series of newsletters distributed in the area.
We are holding a meeting later this month with Imperial staff to find out what is happening on the ‘community benefits’ from the Wood Lane development that are not mentioned in the leaflet, including the long promised pedestrian/cycle underpass at the southern ed of Latimer Road.
Visit our sister website at www.imperialfolly.org.uk if you want to know more about Imperial’s latest plans.
Traffic in North Pole Road has been a worse nightmare than usual, as RBKC undertakes works on the Cycle Quietway crossing between Latimer Road and Bracewell Gardens. St Helens Residents Association argued for a different location for this cycle route (on the eastern side of the Highlever/St Quintin Avenue/StQuintin Gardens ‘triangle’). We were told that this was not feasible.
Let us hope the new crossing works effectively, and that cyclists actually use it. The plans that were discussed at our meeting last year do not explain quite how it will be safer and easier for cyclists to cross North Pole Road, however much expensive new road surface has been laid and extra signage installed.
In our wider area, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation is working on the second version of its OPDC Local Plan. This will determine what happens across a large swathe of London’s disused railway land, north of Wormwood Scrubs. The HS2 Bill is now an Act of Parliament, giving HS2 sweeping planning powers to progress its proposals on Old Oak Common station (the planned interchange with Crossrail/Queen Elizabeth Line).
Meanwhile developers have been coming forward with a series of applications for tall residential towers along Scrubs Lane. The first of two applications from Aurora Developments was approved earlier this month by the OPDC Planning Committee. The Association was given the opportunity to speak at the committee meeting, but did not change minds already made up. The second application, for a 22 storey tower very visible from Little Wormwood Scrubs, looks likely to be decided on April 5th.
Thanks to all those SHRA members who wrote in with objections to this second proposal. There is a slim chance that the level of public opposition might tip the balance on a decision on this application.
We are hoping that the two councillors from Hammersmith & Fulham, on the OPDC Planning Committee, will vote against the application. RBKC has sent in written objections but is not represented on the committee.
Two further developments involving residential towers are set to follow in Scrubs Lane, at ‘Mitre Yard’ just north of Mitre Bridge on the west side of Scrubs Lane and at 2 Scrubs Lane, on the corner of Harrow Road.
All of these schemes feel like architecture from a previous era. They show the risks of a Development Corporation seemingly willing to approve almost anything, to show that things are happening at Old Oak. The public transport links which would justify building at these densities will not be in place until 2026.
The Old Oak Interim Neighbourhood Forum is a body made up of residents associations around Wormwood Scrubs, in LBHF and in Ealing, including the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs. This body has been meeting over the past year and has now applied for formal ‘designation’ from the OPDC and LBHF so that a neighbourhood plan for old Oak can be prepared.
The Forum will be doing its best to use the neighbourhood planning framework as a means of influencing the outcome of massive regeneration at Old Oak. At the moment the omens do not look positive.
The challenge is to convince Mayor Sadiq Khan that Boris’s ideas of a ‘mini-Manhattan’ or a ‘Canary Wharf in the West’ make little sense at Old Oak – an area with a road network already over-congested. This part of London needs more housing, rather than second homes and unoccupied luxury apartments, but super-density high-rise is not where London’s future should be heading.