Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve awaiting Mayoral decision…

The future of Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve still hangs in the balance. It was expected to go to the Mayor of London for decision earlier this month, but there seems to have been some hold up and the case will now be considered in the next few weeks. Back in May, Ealing Council’s Planning Committee gave consent to Blackstone’s proposals for a massive mixed use development on an adjoining site on Colonial Drive, however this decision is subject to approval by the Mayor of London. Campaigners are urging the Mayor to negotiate for a more sensitive development for this site, seeking one which respects, rather than merely exploits, the special qualities of the nature reserve next door. They feel that the blocks of flats, some up to eight storeys high, coming right to the woodland edge in two places, will change irrevocably the special ‘countryside’ character of the nature reserve.

Celebrities including Simon King are supporting the campaign and a number of well-known figures have signed a letter to the editor of the Standard, which was published on Aug 21st.

 

… writes Assembly Member Murad Qureshi on his blog.

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He visited the Triangle, guided by Jan, and was struck how “one development has already encroached over the Nature Reserve almost immediately as you enter the Triangle and could well imagine how the Colonial Drive proposal would over shadow this small oasis of peace and quiet between the rail tracks.” He has written to the Mayor asking for him to intervene, and in particular on the grounds that an Environmental Impact Assessment of the development on the reserve, as recommended by Natural England, has not been done.

If you haven’t already, please do the same, and write to the Mayor on the grounds that matter to you.

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Act NOW to stop the Colonial Drive Developers!

Write to the Mayor of London. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, City Hall, London SE1 2AA. Alternatively send your letter as an email attachment to mayor@London.gov.uk

Talk to Hounslow and Ealing councillors and MPs. Find out who your councillors and MPs are and contact them directly through the web site www.writetothem.com. Alternatively write to them or visit their surgery.

London Wildlife Trust ‘shocked’ at ‘totally insensitive’ development

London Wildlife Trust today issued the following statement, which HOOT members will surely agree with:

Carlo Laurenzi OBE, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust said, ‘We at the Trust are shocked that the Colonial Drive development, adjacent to Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve in Chiswick, was granted permission last night at Ealing Council’s Planning Committee. It is the wrong development so close to this valued nature reserve and totally insensitive in its scale and height.

‘Last night’s Planning Committee meeting showed the current planning system is unable to give a meaningful voice to concerned locals and organisations objecting to inappropriate development. London Wildlife Trust agrees with Natural England (the government’s environmental advisory body) that an Ecological Impact Assessment is needed to fully assess the effect of the development on the Statutory Local Nature Reserve.  Neither the developers nor Ealing Council provided any evidence of having seriously considered the ecological impacts of such a large scale development adjacent to Gunnersbury Triangle. Similarly, the impact on people’s enjoyment of the nature reserve’s tranquil atmosphere was not considered important.

‘This attitude is particularly surprising when you consider Gunnersbury Triangle was designated a statutory Local Nature Reserve by Ealing Council  – for the part of the site within its jurisdiction – in 1991.’  The Triangle is also a Site of Metropolitan Importance for nature conservation.

‘The Trust would like to express its thanks to those Councillors who spoke up, calling for a more sensitive development of this site. We are now considering our options but will continue – alongside other concerned local groups – to fight this inappropriate development.’

Simon King, Bill Oddie, Aubrey Manning and The Wildlife Trusts Join HOOT!

Simon King, Bill Oddie, Aubrey Manning and chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Stephanie Hilborne joined members of Hands Off Our Triangle at Gunnersbury Triangle nature reserve today to celebrate The Wildlife Trusts’ centenary.

Simon King found time to speak about the Colonial Drive threat. He celebrated the value of urban nature reserves and marvelled that places like Gunnersbury Triangle had such a wild feeling. As he’d walked around he’d heard Long-tailed Tits and songbirds like the Chiffchaff and Blackcap – here he paused, and a Blackcap sang as if on cue!

Watch Simon King’s short video (in new window)

Read all the news about the event – more photos

Urban Birder David Lindo says Hands Off Our Triangle!

Urban birder David Lindo lends his support to the HOOT campaign

All Ages Protest During Site Visit

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Members of HOOT, residents and other local pressure groups converged on Gunnersbury Triangle on Saturday 12th May to protest at the Colonial Drive proposals. Ealing Council’s planning committee were greeted by over a hundred and twenty people with placards as they toured the site and the Triangle. Actress Rula Lenska (pictured, centre) lent her support. Read all the news about the event.

Local people and nature ignored in new planning recommendation

London Wildlife Trust today issued the following press release to show its concern, which HOOT shares, about the Colonial Drive development:

The views of thousands of local people, London Wildlife Trust and Natural England are likely to be ignored by Ealing Council on 16th May as an imposing new development on Colonial Drive – overlooking Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve – is recommended for approval by the Council. London Wildlife Trust is calling on the Planning Committee to overturn the recommendation and safeguard the character of the Triangle for wildlife and people.

Gunnersbury Triangle is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, a statutory Local Nature Reserve (designated by LB Ealing in 1991) and has been managed by London Wildlife Trust on behalf of LB Hounslow since 1985. It is free for anyone to visit and has a unique history as a test case for urban nature conservation (as a result of a Public Inquiry) with almost 30 years of careful and sensitive management to maintain it as a real gem for wildlife conservation, education and tranquillity.

Jan Hewlett of London Wildlife Trust’s Chiswick Local Groups says:

‘Generations of local children have learnt about nature here – this is a local treasure that we cannot let developers ruin for profit. Furthermore, we believe that the Triangle’s nature conservation status may be vulnerable to decline; such will be the detrimental impacts of this development.

‘The proposed development of Colonial Drive would loom high on the eastern edge of the Triangle and come within two metres of the nature reserve. At eight stories high it is out of proportion with any other buildings near the reserve. The luxury flats, will be in full view and highly visible from the heart of the reserve by the pond.

‘It breaks my heart so see so little regard being paid to the way local people enjoy and benefit from the nature reserve. Most of our visitors are not expert naturalists but they come to experience the overall ambience of the place, its tranquillity, the sounds, scents and sight of nature, and the feeling of being in the countryside.   If this development goes ahead in its current form, Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve will seem more like an extension of the business park across the railway.’ adds Jan.

London Wildlife Trust acknowledges that there has been recognition of the Triangle in the initial scheme design for Colonial Drive, and that representatives of the applicants have met with staff and volunteers. However, the Trust objects to the development as a more robust Environmental Impact Assessment covering all the potential impacts, both direct and indirect upon the biodiversity and character of the reserve, is required.

The Trust’s objections include:
• Density. With over 130 units this significantly increases indirect human impact in close proximity to the reserve, with implications from on-going occupancy with disturbance to breeding and foraging of bats, birds and other species;
• Light pollution. The buildings loom over the main body of the Triangle’s woodland and increased lighting both from the building and paths/roads are likely to influence the reserve – which currently enjoys little direct light pollution close to its boundaries;
• Future use and occupancy, and the likely impacts of pets, noise and potential desires to use the reserve as an ‘ad hoc’ extended rear garden with associated buggies, scooters, bicycles, footballs, barbecues etc. which would be acceptable in a normal park but not a nature reserve.

These – through the presence and activity of its eventual occupants – are likely to adversely impact on the ecology of the Triangle particularly along its northern edge, which is currently little disturbed.

• Height. The proposed buildings are significantly higher than the existing buildings; the 8-storey block will dwarf the Triangle and is insensitive in respect of height and scale. We object to this strongly because any proposal needs to respect the proximity of the nature reserve;
• Massing. the proposed blocks are significantly bulkier than the current buildings, effectively closing in on the reserve (see point above);
• Proximity to reserve boundary, not only at the two ‘pinch points’, but bringing forward – compounded by the height and massing – of buildings closer to the edge of the reserve;
• Overlooking onto the reserve from future occupants making the feeling of intrusion even greater;

These collectively serve to ‘encroach’ upon the Triangle by a larger and taller bank of buildings, reducing the feeling of tranquillity to its users.

• Significant increase in visitors without a long term solution to manage this.

The development would be likely to increase visitor pressure upon the Triangle, and the Trust’s ability to manage this effectively to retain both its ecological interest, but also its secluded and tranquil feel.

Unless these are addressed in the proposals, we believe that the Triangle’s nature conservation status may be vulnerable to decline; such will be the detrimental impacts of this development.

London Wildlife Trust is one of many concerned local groups as evidenced by the Hands Off Our Triangle! (HOOT) campaign run by a  group of Ealing and Hounslow residents, volunteers and wildlife enthusiasts, united in their concern about the threat to Gunnersbury Triangle from the proposed Colonial Drive development.

Find out how you can show your support for the Hoot campaign now.