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Livingstone fights Hounslow over future of waterside development

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A dispute has erupted between Hounslow Borough Council and London mayor Ken Livingstone over a pivotal waterside development proposal.

In a letter to the council last month, the mayor's office spoke out in support of the scheme - which includes 922 residential units and 7,500m of office space - despite Hounslow having deep reservations.

Planners oppose the proposed office and residential concept by Jestico + Whiles and CZWG at Commerce Road in Brentford, because they feel the land's original use as an industrial employment site should be retained.

Developer ISIS Waterside Regeneration hopes to transform the site, which is identified as a strategic employment location in Livingstone's own London Plan.

Hounslow Borough Council area planning manager Paul Draper said: 'We are somewhat surprised by the mayor's comments because they fly in the face of his own policies and planning guidance on industrial land.

'It's such a big departure that it's hard to see how we could recommend it for approval.' The council has been inundated with similar applications by developers hoping to build mixeduse schemes in Hounslow in recent months.

These include proposals by housebuilder Barratt to construct 1,000 flats and 25,000m commercial space at Wallis House on the Great West Road.

In the mayor's letter to the council, Giles Dolphin, head of planning decisions in the mayor's London office, wrote: 'The mayor concluded that notwithstanding the development plan presumption in favour of retaining and protecting employment uses on sites already in an employment use, the proposed mixed-use scheme was more in keeping with his strategic planning objectives for London.' Dolphin went on to note that the site was seriously under-utilised in terms of existing employment provision.

In contrast, he said, the mixed-used proposals had the potential to remedy this.

Livingstone felt that the scheme would significantly increase employment and meet the mayor's London Plan aspiration to make efficient use of brownfield sites with good public transport links.

The architect said it remained unworried about the conflict. 'The feeling is that the council is very busy. We are still pursuing them to consider it as soon as possible, ' said Jestico + Whiles' project architect Angus Eitel.

'The support from the GLA is as good as we could have hoped for.'

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