Refuse the TfL Bollo Lane development, Cllr Joanna Biddolph urges Ealing’s planning committee

TfL’s proposed Bollo Lane development will have an enormous impact on Hounslow residents, putting even more strain on local infrastructure – schools, GPs, buses, trains, tubes, roads and more. It will also tower over, and overshadow, the charm of the nearby Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate, pretty mock-Tudor houses built in 1927, in the important Gunnersbury Park conservation area of Turnham Green ward.  Cllr Joanna Biddolph responded to the public consultation and, as an elected representative of the neighbouring ward, asked to speak at the planning committee meeting on 20th January where the proposals would be considered. Her request was denied. Instead, she wrote to members of Ealing’s planning committee.  Her email is below.
I’m one of the three councillors who represent Hounslow’s Turnham Green ward, the north west part of which – the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate conservation area – runs alongside Bollo Lane.  This is both a route between our residents’ homes and Chiswick, and the road which, if it is over developed, will  impact on our transport infrastructure (buses, tubes and the road), GPs, schools and many other services which are, as every Londoner knows, already under strain.
There is no doubt that Bollo Lane would benefit from improvement.  The western side is bleak and dull.  Aside from the imposing and impactful pocket flats, which have taken so much sunlight and character from the surrounding area of tree-lined residential roads of low rise Victorian houses, most of the western side is an unattractive stretch of uncared for and often fly-tipped-filled scrub.  I therefore welcome the stronger, more thoughtful elements of this plan – the development at low level of the arches, for example.
However, the blocks of flats are far too tall and speak of a policy of pile’em high and sell’em cheap – though they are unlikely to be cheap.  They will dwarf and diminish the charm of the 1927 mock-Tudor houses in the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate conservation area where residents I represent live.  I also live here and have seen just how easy it is to spoil an area by building imposing blocks that also spoil the view.  Our residents’ view is no longer of gently pitched roofs against sky; it is of adverts on angular and ugly blocks that add nothing to, indeed spoil, the skyline.
In addition, this TfL development would mean yet more flats when what people want is family houses with doors that open onto the street – just like the properties in Southfield ward and in the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate conservation area.  They are also in the modern idiom – dull and characterless in shape, style and colour as well as devoid of any aesthetic value.  Councils are asked to pay greater attention to style and character; these blocks ignore that.
At the top of Bollo Lane is the very stylish and attractive art deco Gunnersbury Court, three well-designed blocks in proportion with each other and with their outdoor space.  The appeal of this handsome development will be overwhelmed by the imposing and greedy development on the other side of the road.  Its presence has already been diminished by the over-large and ugly Acton Gardens development next door.  Spoiling it further would significantly and negatively impact on the attractiveness of our area.
There are also impacts of high rise living, in small spaces, on mental health – as we have learned during the pandemic – and the isolation from the rest of the local community from living in the closed worlds that large blocks of flats inevitably create.  We should not continue to build such tall blocks to meet targets; our residents are more than targets; they deserve a better quality of life.
My other real concern is the lack of co-ordination with Hounslow’s neighbouring residents on the impact of this huge development.  Although it borders Hounslow’s Turnham Green ward, no-one from Ealing council has engaged with Hounslow’s nearby residents about the impact on them.  It is as if we do not exist.  Greater co-ordination is needed between the two councils to consider the impact on your Hounslow neighbours of this scheme.  The Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate conservation area will be forced into the shadow of these tall buildings instead of being allowed to stand proud in their own right.
The strength of feeling against this scheme – well over 600 responses including from the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate residents’ association – is striking and must not be ignored.
I urge you to refuse this application and call instead for a sensitive development that puts character and charm above targets and respects the lives of the people who already live here.
Comment made to the official planning consultation which ended on 1st December 2020
There are some strong elements to this plan such as the development at low level of Bollo Lane. However, the blocks of flats are far too tall. And it is yet more flats when what people want is family houses with doors that open onto the street – like many of the properties nearby. 

We have been extremely lucky that Covid-19 hasn’t ripped through blocks of flats and I am worried that, with so much uncertainty about this virus and what might follow it, building tall blocks is socially irresponsible. There are also impacts of high rise living, in small spaces, on mental health. We should not continue to build such tall blocks. 

My other real concern, however, is the lack of co-ordination with Hounslow council on the impact of this huge development. It borders Hounslow’s Turnham Green ward yet no-one from Hounslow has talked to residents about the impact on us. It is as if we do not exist. 

Chiswick will soon be surrounded by tall buildings – the 32-storey Chiswick Curve has been rejected but something will come in its place. The Fourth Mile development of high rise blocks has been proposed for the B&Q site. Opposite at 250 Gunnersbury Avenue there are plans for tall blocks of flats. Power Road has been identified as part of the “opportunity area” linked with Brentford’s Golden Mile. They are all being proposed ad hoc with no thought of their collective impact on the character of Chiswick, a character that people who live here value and respect. And they are being proposed by a council that does not regard itself to have anything to do with Chiswick yet residents of Ealing’s Southfield ward are just as much Chiswick residents as those who live in Turnham Green ward which extends to TfL’s land around Acton Lane tube station and includes the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate. Greater co-ordination is needed between the two councils, at a political level as well as at officer level, to consider the impact on Chiswick of this scheme, and the others proposed and to come, that are slowly enclosing Chiswick in tall buildings. Chiswick will be stuck in the shadow of these buildings instead of being allowed to stand proud in its own right. 

Finally, the impact of so many more residents on Chiswick’s infrastructure has been completely disregarded. Buses, tubes, GPs, schools and many other services will be even more strained. No-one is looking at these implications. This is being considered as a one-off planning application. It must be considered in the round.