Tuesday, 22 February 2011

This is how our neighbourhood will look

Here's some photos of the buildings H&F Council and Development Securities hope to place into our neighbourhood. The size, scale and design speak for themselves.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Letter to planning official

Deputy Team Leader for North Area for Head of Development Management

Planning Division

11th January 2011

Dear Laurence O’Keeffe

I must apologise for the delay in getting this letter to you, circumstances beyond my control I am afraid however it has given me an opportunity to update the letter in the light of the most recent proposal for this site, which omits the public library.

Thank you for taking the time to meet. One and a half hours was generous although as we realised, when discussing such a large issue the time flies by.

You made reference to the fact that many of the objection letters contained identical wording and that in some cases the points raised were not accurate.

As I am sure you are aware, many of us concerned with this issue have no experience when it comes to planning issues, particularly ones of this size.

We have been told in the past that our objections should wherever possible avoid subjective or emotive arguments and so we have attempted to engage with the more detailed and factual aspects of this proposal.

In addition to this the notice informing us that the final plans had been submitted for planning approval was sent to us around the 20th September and gave us until the 13th October to object. This is very little time to fully understand the proposal and all it’s issues.

I understand from our meeting that you are ‘not even close’ to making your report and that it will certainly not go before the PAC before April. Perhaps it would have been better to let the residents know that they had a little more time to get to grips with this proposal.

Furthermore, in some cases, this proposal is likely to affect those in Hammersmith Grove who are least able to defend them selves against the negative impact of such a development. Particularly on the south east side of Hammersmith Grove, there are many elderly and overseas residents who either do not have computers, nor perhaps the language or confidence to engage with the council on such an issue.

This does not however diminish in any way the strength of their feelings regarding the proposal and indeed should qualify them for particular protection against a process that many of them do not understand or feel intimidated by.

Building size, function and appearance.

Although it was clear that you have not made any decisions regarding this matter, I was disappointed to hear that you do not agree that the proposed building is inappropriate in it’s size, function and appearance.

You mention that the elevations showing the proposed building next to the George Building are misleading, as they do not show the George Building’s highest point. I have looked very carefully at this and I believe you are referring to the ‘tower’ above the entrance. I do not believe this makes for a more favourable comparison with the height of the proposed structure. This ‘tower’ may rise above the height of the top floor of the George building but does not significantly increase the mass/volume of the building and is therefore a poor comparison with the height of the proposed building next door, which is more constant in it’s height/mass/ volume.

We agree that appearance can be a subjective issue but we maintain our position that the size and appearance of the building is unacceptable and that we believe it does not conform to the policies referred to in our previous communications regarding developments close to a conservation area.

With regards to its function, as discussed we are bewildered by the idea that Hammersmith needs any more office space. I recently checked with the many surrounding office buildings and not one of them was full, many of them had a lot of space available and many of them have never been fully occupied. The argument that smarter, bigger office space is needed does not hold water. The management of existing office space want to rent their spaces. I doubt that any of their offices are divided up by more than plasterboard, and if there were demand for smarter, larger offices, they could address this easily rather than sit there empty.

Community Space.

I was very glad to hear that you do not feel the various proposals for community space have been good enough. Neither do we. We are disappointed to have lost the cinema although it seems that was never a realistic option and we have grave concerns regarding the agenda that prevailed at the time when this was offered. Since the last Public Forum it seems we have lost the community space and in it’s place we were being offered a library and again, we have concerns regarding the agenda surrounding this issue and how it was linked with the fate of the library on Shepherds Bush Road. This latest proposal omits the library and I would be grateful if you could clarify what the community is now being offered. I have tried three times now to access the latest plans online and have been unable to do so.

Because of the uncanny coincidences regarding loss of community amenities elsewhere and the various proposals for this site, it is my belief that the local community have assumed some communication between the council and the developers on these matters and have been looking to the council to consider and protect our interests. If as you say, this is not the case, and it is for the planning department to consider what is proposed, not to make a proposal, then I think there is potential here for some good dialogue and perhaps the council should consider organising a more lengthy and detailed conversation with locals about exactly what community facilities are needed.

In any case, we feel very strongly that whatever community provision is made, that it should form part of Phase 1.


There is no doubt that something will be built here and we residents are relying on the council to carefully consider any proposal and put in place measures that will protect us from the impact of living with any new development, particularly with regards to those issues that are either not in the developers remit or have not been considered by them. In short, to do what they promised and “put residents first”.

I was interested to hear that it is not confirmed that this will be a 24/7 operation. Whatever the operating hours, conditions such as restrictions on parking, direction for vehicles entering/leaving the site, hours of operation for lighting and air-conditioning, restrictions on hours of deliveries and refuse collections etc would all go to help mitigate the impact. If you were to look at the history of the nuisance issue regarding the air-conditioning at the George building you will see that we have not had much success in resolving problems after the event.

As you may recall, when I suggested the council was not listening to us you disagreed and said that on the contrary, significant changes had been made to the plans as a result of the public forum. The two examples you sited where in my view small details that could never be considered significant and we look forward to seeing the promised list of changes that have been made as a result of the public forum. We requested another official public forum but you say that there is no possibility of another one and that this cannot be justified, in part because there have been no significant changes to the plans since then. I would argue that the losing the flexible community space is a significant change, the only one since the public forum.

Finally I am surprised to discover that the proposal is phased because of funding. Happily I am not au fait with the complexities of development funding but I am surprised to hear that you are considering a proposal that will not necessarily be completed. Surely it would make more sense to build a smaller development all in one go, that would be cheaper to build, cheaper to operate, more appropriate to the site and it’s surroundings and would save the residents the misery of living with such a huge development and a double construction time, one following the other.

Thank you again for agreeing to meet. I would be grateful if you could keep us updated on the situation and I look forward to hearing from you on those matters discussed.

Yours sincerely

Nicola Lesbirel

Friday, 29 October 2010

To Laurance O'Keefe

Environment and Planning Department

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

27th October 2010

Dear Mr O’keefe

Planning Application ref 2010/02842/FUL NCP Car Park

I am writing to you on behalf of myself, and also the Hammersmith Grove Neighbours Group to object in the strongest possible terms to the planning application proposed for this site.


This site adjoins two conservation areas, Hammersmith Grove and Hammersmith Broadway.

The Council’s UDP Policy states that development “will only be permitted if the character or appearance of the conservation area is preserved or enhanced…particular regards will be given to details such as scale, massing, bulk, height….relationship to adjoining buildings…open spaces. New developments must where possible respect the historic context, volume scale. Form, materials and quality…”

The Council’s Hammersmith Grove Conservation Area Character Profile states that , regarding views down Hammersmith Grove. “Great care, therefore, must be taken when considering applications which will affect these views, including those on sites outside the conservation area, ie at the extreme ends of Hammersmith Grove”.

-The proposed buildings are far too big, dwarfing even the George building to the North, their mass and bulk is utterly out of keeping with the adjoining architecture and spoils views both looking north from Lyric Square and south from Hammersmith Grove.

-The proposed buildings are completely characterless, being of the worst possible kind of soulless cooperate architecture, more at home in the City or the Docklands and completely out of place amongst the more human architecture of Hammersmith. The design and materials have no sympathy, nor relationship whatsoever with the surrounding buildings.

In addition to this I understand that a neighbours objection to the previous scheme with regards to loss of light was upheld and this being a bigger and bulkier proposal, I would be interested to know where the council stands on this issue today.


The impact that a development of this size and nature will have on the surrounding community must not be ignored.

This will be a 24/7 operation and this will bring 24/7 problems.

-Traffic. We understand that the reception and service entrances will both be on Hammersmith Grove. Given this and the bottle-neck and one-way system on Beadon Road / Hammersmith Broadway, it is safe to say that a great deal of traffic will be accessing this building via Hammersmith Grove. Tenants, their visitors, mini cabs, motorbike messengers, delivery vans, waste and recycling trucks etc will all be driving down Hammersmith Grove, often at night and in the early hours to avoid traffic.

-People. The massive influx of workers and visitors to the new building will place a heavy strain on the infrastructure of Hammersmith and particularly Hammersmith Grove will be poorly affected, especially with 15.000 sq feet of restaurants encouraging workers and visitors to stay on long after working hours, with those visitors dispersing up Hammersmith Grove late into the night.

-Parking. We understand that 300 parking places will be lost when the car park is no more and that only 10 will be provided. Although it is hoped that the majority of the daily estimated 3000 visitors to this building will use public transport, the Piccadilly line is already unable to meet existing passenger demand and parking will be affected.

-Air Conditioning. In our experience, most modern air-conditioning is un-detectable against the ambient noise of planes, trains and automobiles during the day however early in the morning, late evenings and during the night the high pitch hum can be plainly heard and can be very disturbing indeed.

I have received a letter from Jon Dingle of The London Planning Practice Ltd confirming that “the proposed plant will not be audible from any residential property at any time during the day or night”. He does not say if this means from inside or outside but the residents of Hammersmith Grove have a right to enjoy the peace and quiet of not only their homes but also their gardens and we believe the air-conditioning required to service a development of this size and operation will spoil our enjoyment of our homes and gardens.

The suggestion that we may have recourse to a nuisance complaints procedure via the environment department of our local council is not a process that we have much faith in, should the air-conditioning prove to be a problem. I refer to the 9 year and still on going issue with regards to the air-conditioning at the George Building.


It is hard to see any meaningful benefit to the community in this proposal.

The original scheme back in 2007, proposed an Everyman cinema and at that time no one was in any doubt that this only served to appease an angry community that were losing the existing Hammersmith cinema, in it’s original and wonderful building, as part of another contentious planning proposal.

Under the latest proposal, this Everyman cinema has been scrapped and in it’s place we now have a library, this only serving to appease yet another angry community that face losing their library in it’s original and wonderful building, as part of a highly contentious sell off.

This proposal in no way respects the council’s own criteria regarding Conservation areas and UDP Policy and I have yet to meet one single Hammersmith resident who thinks this proposal is a good idea.

There is no doubt that current public transport facilities, delivery/service restrictions, parking, road size/ layout and pavement/crossings are not sufficient nor appropriate to cope with the issues of traffic and pedestrians associated with a development of this size.

We have spent a great deal of time listening to the Developers responses to our questions and concerns. We have heard precisely nothing from the council regarding their plans to address those issues that fall within their remit and over which the developers have no control whatsoever.

We already have a library and if this scheme goes ahead, we will still have a library, albeit housed in a soulless, cooperate monolith and the way in which this proposal has been used as a sort of currency to play one contentious development issue off against the other, is scandalous.

We object to this proposal in the strongest possible terms and urge the council to live up to their promise of “putting people first”.

Please inform me of any further consultation processes and also the date at which this proposal may go to the Planning and Applications Committee.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours sincerely

Nicola Lesbirel

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Update on the NCP site, Hammersmith Grove, Hammersmith, London, W6

In 2007 Development Securities were granted planning permission to build on the site of the old NCP car park at the bottom of Hammersmith Grove. At the time there was much suspicion and anger surrounding the relationship between the developer and the council and much concern about the size and type of development proposed and the impact it would have on residents of Hammersmith Grove.

Since that time and due to the economic climate, Development Securities have revised their plans for this site. This new proposal was presented at a planning forum meeting on 23rd March 2010 and Sarah Bynoe and I attended a meeting with The London Planning Practice and the architects BFLS last week. Attached you will find a copy of the letter that I sent to them following this meeting.

Although quite changed in terms of it’s design and finish, unfortunately they have not addressed enough of the issues that will affect us as residents. Those are:

  • The scheme is still too big, dwarfing the George Building at the end of Hammersmith Grove.
  • Most of the proposed development comprises office space, do we really need much more when the George Building and the Triangle Building have never been full since they were opened?
  • The size of the proposal will have a massive impact on our quality of life.
  • Up to 3000 extra people every day will be pouring into the south end of Hammersmith Grove and Lyric Square.
  • Approx 500 extra vehicles every day will be visiting/servicing this new building, most of them driving up and down Hammersmith Grove.This will be a 24/7 operation so many of these vehicles will be arriving and leaving in early mornings, late at night and at weekends.
  • 300 existing parking spaces will lost and 10 will be put back, putting lots of extra pressure on parking in Hammersmith Grove.
  • Air conditioning will be required 24/7, to add to the noise we already suffer from the George building.
  • The cinema from the original scheme has been ditched and there is absolutely nothing planned for the residents and the community.
In short we, the residents will bear the brunt of the noise, the crowds and the parking problems but we shall see no benefits whatsoever, in fact this development could reduce the value of our properties.

There is no doubt that this site is overdue for development however this must be a scheme that is sympathetic to the residential nature of it’s position, sensible about the limitations of the existing infrastructure and contributes something to the community that lives around it.

There is to be a presentation of the proposal in Lyric Square on the 7th and 8th July and the final proposal is being submitted to the council at the end of July.

Please do contact me using the details below, register your interest and please say if you would be interested in coming to a Hammersmith Grove Neighbours Group meeting so that we can talk about how we can tackle this very important issue. Alternatively please do contact Ellen Whitchurch, head of planning at Hammersmith and Fulham Council and register your concerns.

We have an opportunity to influence the nature of this development and the stronger the group the more influence we will have.

Here is the text of the letter sent to Development Securities

Dear Jon and David

Thank you for the presentation and your time at our meeting last week. I have been away for a few days so forgive the delay in getting back to you but I just wanted to confirm the points that were raised at our meeting.

We were surprised and disappointed to hear that our names were not on the list of suggested consultees, when you first started this latest round of consultation regarding the NCP development at the very beginning of this year. Especially in view of the fact that were were extremely active during the last round of forums and meetings in 2007. This is something that we will be taking up with the planning department at Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

We understand that this NCP site falls within the UDP for Hammersmith Town Centre and as such is viewed as desirable for commercial development. We were surprised to hear that there is no margin within this UDP to allow for a buffer zone to protect residents from the impact of these large developments however as this is not within your power to change, this is something that we will have to take up elsewhere.

As you are aware, residents of Hammersmith are very concerned about the impact of the development that is proposed on the site of the NCP car park in Hammersmith and particularly those of us that live in Hammersmith Grove. There are a number of issues that are cause for concern and we would urge you to do everything that you can to mitigate this impact. We discussed these issues in some detail at our meeting but just as an aide memoire;-

The design of the development is a very personal issue, some will like the concept and some will not however there seems to be a concensus that whatever the design, the proposed buildings are just too big. Even given that the most recent proposal reduces the size by one floor in each building, in our opinion the scale of the new proposal still dwarfs the adjacent George Building which already feels monumental. If the overall scale of the buildings could be further reduced, perhaps by sacrificing the central open leisure area, then so much the better.

Although the inclusion of the community space is a welcome one, we do not feel there has been enough thought concerning the contribution to the local community, particularly as the cinema idea has now been scrapped. We will bear the brunt of the impact of this development without any advantage to ourselves.

This will be a 24/7 operation and this will bring 24/7 problems.

Traffic. We understand that the reception and service entrances will both be on Hammersmith Grove. Given this and the one way system on Beadon Road/Hammersmith Broadway, it is safe to say that a great deal of traffic will be accessing this building via Hammersmith Grove. Tenants, their visitors, mini cabs, motorbike messengers, delivery vans, waste and recycling trucks etc will all be driving down Hammersmith Grove, often at night and in the early hours to avoid traffic. Ideally the reception and service entrances and egresses could be relocated to Beadon Road. Failing that, maintaining a one way system on Hammersmith Grove from just North of these entrances would help and also we are seeking a restriction on the access hours for certain vehicles like waste, recycling, commercial deliveries etc.

Parking. We understand that 300 parking places will be lost when the car park is no more and that only 10 will be provided. Although it is hoped that the majority of the daily 3000 visitors to this building will use public transport, there is no doubt that parking will be affected. Although this may not be in your remit, we would be seeking some consideration of this issue as a condition of the proposal and an undertaking that parking restrictions in Hammersmith Grove and maybe in some of the adjacent streets, are adjusted to reflect this new issue and also that the King's Mall car park is addressed in terms of it's appearance, service, access and signage.

Air Conditioning. In our experience, most modern air-conditioning is un-detectable against the ambient noise of planes, trains and automobiles during the day however early in the morning, late evenings and during the night the high pitch hum can be plainly heard and can be very disturbing indeed. The suggestion that we may have recourse to a nuisance complaints procedure via the environment department of our local council is not a process that we have much faith in, should the air-conditioning prove to be a problem. We are seeking reassurance that the specification is of the very highest, that any comparative ambient noise readings against which the proposed plant has ben spec'd have also been taken at night and that there will be a restriction on the running times at night and at weekends.

Construction is also a big issue and we would be seeking restrictions on working hours and practices and a reasonable time table. The idea that one building would be built before the other is a cause of great concern. If they are built as one development then one set of trucks is delivering for both buildings. Constructing them separately means just as we are getting over the misery of living with the construction of the first, it may be that we have to brace ourselves all over again for a second round of construction.

There is no doubt that the NCP is an eyesore but at the moment a benevolent one. The residents of Hammersmith and particularly the Grove deserve to be protected from the worst of the negative impact that developments such as this can have, protected by our council to whom we pay our taxes and also by responsible developers who recognise the issues and act to resolve them to everyone's benefit.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

NCP developers want new planning permission

Development Securities have approached our local Council and signalled that they intend to seek new planning permission for the NCP car park site at the bottom of Hammersmith Grove. You can view their proposals by clicking here.

We are not against the development of the NCP site. It is an eyesore and we would welcome any improvement. However, we are yet to be convinced that the proposals put forward by Development Securities will be an improvement. Their proposed building seems too big for a residential area and we are keen to negotiate with the Council and the developer to ensure that are homes are not blighted by an over sized building that does not fit with this historic residential setting.