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Studio Egret West's Chiswick Curve refused planning

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Hounslow Council has rejected plans for Studio Egret West’s 32-storey Chiswick Curve in west London 

Planning officers recommended the 327-home scheme for refusal, saying its location, scale and design would ‘cause harm, including substantial harm’ to a range of designated heritage assets, including the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens World Heritage Site as well as nearby listed buildings and conservation areas. 

The 40,445m² scheme near Chiswick Roundabout is the latest in a series of unrealised and rejected plans for the site next to the M4 that have been mooted since the turn of the century. 

Original developer London & Bath worked on numerous schemes for the plot, including a 26-storey office tower known as the Pinnacle by LOM Architecture and Design, which was withdrawn in 2000 after being called in by the secretary of state. The Citadel, a 13-storey commercial development by the same practice was finally approved in 2008, but although construction work started, the project later ground to a halt.

In 2011, Make Architects won planning permission for the so-called Chiswick Octopus, a 50m-tall ‘part building, part sculpture’ cloaked in an LED shroud. The plans were later scrapped.

LOM was again appointed in 2014 to design a taller 42-storey mixed-use scheme for the plot, but the plans were dropped before going to committee. 

In 2015 Studio Egret West took over the development with new backer Starbones, a subsidiary of Galliard Homes. 

The planning report stated: ‘The development, by virtue of its location, scale, mass and design would not constitute the very highest, outstanding quality of design required for a tall building in this location.

‘It would cause harm to the character of the wider area around the site and the skyline.’

Ew1602 pp chiswick updates illustrative driving on m4

Ew1602 pp chiswick updates illustrative driving on m4

Source: Studio Egret West

‘Chiswick Curve’ by Studio Egret West

Skyline Campaign co-founder Barbara Weiss commented: ‘[The building] is totally insensitive to context, greedy, bling, and hugely harmful to local conservation areas and to the World Heritage site at Kew. It is a dangerous precedent for that part of London.’  

She added: ‘Chiswick is full of beautiful cottages and small residential streets. It is on the river, and the [Chiswick] Curve would be seen sticking out like a sore thumb. It is incongruous and intrusive, and has no business being allowed in such a sensitive and special part of London.’

The planning report also said the project failed to meet the the delivery of an acceptable amount of affordable housing. 

A letter written on behalf of Starbones in response to the report, stated: ‘The Chiswick Curve is a scheme that can genuinely kick-start the regeneration of this historically industrial and vacant site.

‘By approving the proposals Hounslow will send a strong message to surrounding landowners that there are real and significant aspirations for the area, for Chiswick and for Hounslow. The converse is also true should the scheme be refused.’

The letter also claimed that the scheme would contribute £17.95 million to the Hounslow area in economic benefits. 

Studio Egret West declined to comment. 

Project data

Location Land at Chiswick Roundabout, Great West Road, Chiswick, W4
Type of project Mixed-use
Client Starbones
Architect Studio Egret West
Landscape architect Studio Egret West
Planning consultant DP9
M&E consultant XCO2 Energy
Quantity surveyor RLB
Gross internal floor area 40,445m²

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