A bitter row has erupted over a Thames-side scheme of 744 homes approved for seven acres close to Hammersmith Bridge. Critics claim it will ruin a historic stretch of riverfront - and that it is the shape of things to come if proposals to relax planning rules go ahead.
Developer St George will build shops, offices and restaurants at the site and set aside a quarter of the flats for first-time buyers. The scheme was approved, on the grounds that it would help to regenerate the area, at a noisy meeting of Hammersmith and Fulham council in the teeth of objections from residents’ groups, local MP Andy Slaughter and Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith.
Mr Slaughter said the proposal was “wholly inappropriate” in an area dominated by Victorian terraced houses. “It is the size, bulk, and density that I object to – it is all about cramming as much as you can into an area just to make money,” he said.
Cllr Nick Botterill, deputy leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, said: “The committee believed that the development would revitalise the riverside and bring jobs and prosperity to a part of London that has been in desperate need of regeneration for many years. The committee ultimately concluded that it would improve Fulham Reach and the surrounding area.”
The developer will pay £12m to the council to be spent on local facilities , and build public parks, riverside walks and a comunity boat club as part of the deal. Work is planned for the end of the year.
“Never mind the countryside, if you want to know what its going to be like when these changes come in just come to Hammersmith now,” said Mr Slaughter. “There was massive, massive opposition to this locally. Mr Goldsmith described the decision as ‘perverse and grotesquely undemocratic’.
“The area will now be overwhelmed by an over-sized and hideous development,” he said. “Yet again, residents have been ignored. The planning system is currently being reformed, and we must all insist that those reforms involve a genuine and wholesale transfer of power to local people.”
Melanie Whitlock, chair of the Hammersmith Society, also objected to the plans. “I think it is utterly regrettable that all parts of London are becoming generic developer-land.”