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A packed meeting of local residents told developers St George of their anger and disappointment over the company's plans for the empty site adjoining Kew Bridge.

Around 150 people attended the meeting at the Steam Museum, arranged to discuss plans to build 263 apartments and associated commercial development.

Many of the complaints concerned the scale of the proposals. Under the present plans the site will contain almost twice as many people as recommended under present planning guidelines.

The design of the buildings proved equally unpopular. There was a great deal of concern about the effect on the river frontage. A spokesperson for the River Thames Society condemned the encroachment along the towpath and spoke of the effects of cumulative development along the Thames shore and called for a development that reflected the riverside location - another local resident described the development as "looking like Hammersmith Broadway".

"Disgracefully Tall"

A spokesperson for the Kew Society said that the plans were 'nothing but a try-on". One of many people concerned about the height of the development, he said that whilst he could understand residents of the new buildings wanting to be high enough to see Kew, the residents of Kew did not necessarily want to see the new buildings.

Many others echoed this point, saying that they thought the buildings to be 'disgracefully tall' and stated that the developers had gone against Hounslow Council guidelines, set down in a Planning Brief, that allowed only three stories at the water's edge rather than the four set down in the plans. The steep angle of climb to the 9 story buildings facing Kew Bridge Road was also condemned. The Brentford Community Council spoke of the plans as showing "a massive over development, a good idea gone to seed".

Architect Peter Crossley defended the scheme he designed, saying that it truthfully reflected the Planning Brief and further more, following consultation with local residents, these plans had been modified from an earlier design, providing additional public open space. He said that it would be a 'landmark' building that was shorter than the maximum permitted height and the 'strong design' of the frontage and the way in which the buildings 'stepped down' to the river would result in a massive benefit to the area.

In answer to other question he told the meeting that traffic surveys had indicated that there would be no significant increase in road traffic and that St George would expect to pay Hounslow Council a significant sum of money in a 'Section 106' agreement to improve local services. Of the 263 apartments, 106 would take the form of 'affordable housing'.

The mood of the meeting can possibly best be gauged by the Chair's request at the end for anybody in favour of the development to speak out. Answer came there none. A nearby resident called on Councillors to "have the guts to stand up for the people of Brentford" and reject the scheme.

The Brentford and Isleworth Planning Committee are expected to discuss the scheme in the Spring, with a final decision possible in the summer.

February 5, 2004