Monday, 25 May 2015

St James' Development on Wood Lane Gets Planning Approval

St James's Development on Wood Lane - How it will look
Developers St James have won planning permission for their new development on Wood Lane, including a 28 storey tower block, which we first reported on last October.  Last week the Planning Applications Committee at LBH&F approved the application, despite much local opposition including from our constituency MP, Andy Slaughter.

Where is this development taking place?
On the old M&S warehouse site, an un-lovely collection of warehouses and industrial buildings.

M&S Warehouse site

Who objected?
Many people, including Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, who described the skyscrapers as "excessively scaled 10-28 storey buildings" which are "inappropriate for the area and will block out natural light to neighbouring properties. Will cause loss of privacy to existing residents who will be overlooked by thousands of residential properties. Concern raised about density of the proposals and the affordability of the homes if they are unaffordable for local people. Proposal should address local housing needs.”

Who else?
The Hammersmith Society. In their words:  “Raise objection to the proposed development which is too tall and dense, and has an inhospitable pedestrian environment. No justification for tall buildings given which exceed the indicative heights in the WCOAPF. Object to 28 storey tower at north end of site. Development blocks are too close together and the detailed component potentially comprises the development of adjoining sites. HS advises that affordable housing should be closer to 40% target. Highlight importance of connections to ensure the success of the open space on the site.”

How much will be affordable housing?
Around 19 per cent of the properties on the site will be designated “affordable” housing.

How tall will it be?
Tall. 28 storeys for the biggest skyscraper.

Where can I see the plans?
You can see more about St James plans here. However, as with many planning applications, the developers are a bit fuzzy on what the buildings will look like.  See the sketch above taken from their website - which looks like it was done in about ten minutes.

But based on the image at the top of this post, the new development will look similar to the steel and glass towers in the Paddington Basin. Very tall, very shiny, high density housing, posh flats - but not much in the way of character. Why does so much new build in London need to be so architecturally uninspiring?

Is it a good thing?
Depends on your point of view.  The current M&S site, in fact much of Wood lane, is a weirdly depressing stretch of semi industrial buildings, unremarkable office space and faceless slip roads.  Development will certainly help to regenerate the area, but it all depends on how well the work is done.

The one part that is definitely a good thing is the public park - who can argue that Shepherd's Bush would not benefit from some new green lungs. North of Shepherd's Bush Green there is precious little in the way of green space.

Let us hope that St James do a good job.  As Ruskin wrote back in 1849: "When we build, let us think that we build for ever."

To see the Council's official consultation page, follow this link.


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