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.