Planning Committee Set to Object to Tower North of Scrubs

25 storey building would 'change experience of key open space'

A visualisation of the School Road tower from the developer
A visualisation of the School Road tower from the developer

August 28, 2023

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Planning and Development Committee is set to raise an objection to a 25 storey tower which could overshadow Wormwood Scrubs.

The proposed development is at 3 School Road in Acton, currently an industrial site just north of H&F’s boundary and though it is in the borough of Ealing, the planning authority which will permit or refuse the planning application is the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, or OPDC.

The application is for:

Demolition of existing buildings and redevelopment to provide one building up to 25 storeys, comprising 1, 199sqm (GIA) flexible Class E(g)(ii) (research and development of products or processes) / Class E(g)(iii) (industrial processes) / Class B2 (general industrial) uses over basement, ground and mezzanine floors; 95sqm (GIA) Class E(b) (cafe) use on ground floor; with 176 residential units (Class C3) above, together with access, service bay, internal and external residential amenity, landscaping and public realm, play space, cycle parking, refuse, plant and all associated works.

The application can be seen in full using reference 23-0026-FUMOPDC here.

Developer Charlbury Group says 3 School Road, along with the adjoining site at 99 Victoria Road has been identified as suitable for around 250 new homes and associated commercial space.

The group says the aim is to replace an outdated single use industrial building and under-used car park with an exciting residential scheme as part of a new, high-quality residential development for Old Oak.

It says the new residential development fits with the existing and emerging townscape and urban grain.

However, H&F planning officers have a different view. A report to be discussed at a meeting of the Planning and Development Control Committee on Tuesday 5 September says that the proposed scheme would introduce a highly prominent new feature within the background of views from Wormwood Scrubs which would be visually distracting and change the appreciation and experience of the scrubs as a key open space.

View across Wormwood Scrubs as it is now
View across Wormwood Scrubs as it is now

View across Wormwood Scrubs if proposed projects proceed
View across Wormwood Scrubs if proposed projects proceed

Officers say they also remain cognisant of the potential cluster of the tall buildings which could be delivered in future. This means the proposed height of this initial tall building requires careful consideration to help inform the scale of other tall buildings within the local area.

Given that no other applications are pending consideration, or no masterplan has been formally adopted for the site, officers are concerned that development to this scale at the edge of an area identified for the development of tall buildings could create a precedent for other tall buildings to be of a much-increased scale which would further exacerbate townscape harm to the sensitive setting of Wormwood Scrubs.

The School Road site of the proposed tower
The School Road site of the proposed tower

Officers have previously raised similar concerns about the increased scale and densities of developments around North Acton Station, the “North Acton cluster”.

In summary, the officers recommend that H&F Council raises an objection to the proposed development for the following reason:

Townscape Impacts: The proposed development is considered to represent harm to the townscape of Hammersmith and Fulham, namely key views within Wormwood Scrubs. This townscape harm would result in a medium/high degree of change within key views and result in moderate/adverse townscape impacts.

The application is being reported to H&F's committee to give its members the opportunity to consider and endorse the officers' recommendations before these are formally submitted to the OPDC.

H&F Council’s representations will be included in the OPDC committee's report and will form part of their considerations.

The plans are expected to be considered by the OPDC’s planning committee two days later on Thursday 7 September.

Though no objections have been received to date from residents of Hammersmith & Fulham, the OPDC has received an objection from Ealing Civic Society, on the grounds that residential development in this location is unsuitable as it is an industrial area currently with a lack of local infrastructure and poor amenities to support a residential community and the provision of residential accommodation above the proposed industrial uses would be likely to harm the amenities of future residents.

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposals can still do so by completing the form on this page.

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