News

Celebrities Say HOOT! (and enjoy a slice of birthday cake)

Image copyright Chris Taylor Photography

Bill Oddie, Simon King and Stephanie Hilborne (standing) join local schoolchildren in pond-dipping.


Simon King, Bill Oddie, Aubrey Manning and chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Stephanie Hilborne visited Gunnersbury Triangle on the 16th of May 2012 to celebrate a hundred years of the Wildlife Trusts. Exactly 100 years ago today, Charles Rothschild, banker and naturalist, set up the society which became the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. In 1915 he went on to set up 284 reserves. Each one now has its own interactive online archive at WildlifeTrusts.org.

The lovely iced birthday cake for the Centenary of the Wildlife Trusts. Dolphins, Sugar Octopuses and Starfish adorn the turquoise waters below, while a large marzipan Rabbit grazes the grass-green icing and a chocolate-brown raptor soars among the centenary clouds above.

Bill Oddie, Simon King and Stephanie Hilborne cutting the cake, with a little help

What it’s all about: Newts in a pond-dipping tray. There’s a toad tadpole, too. Also seen were damselfly nymphs, huge Planorbis pond snails, a leech, a freshwater clam and lots of water boatmen

Petition Signatures Top 2000

Over 1800 people have signed HOOT’s petition, either on paper or online. Another 500 people have signed AGSOS’s independently-run petition against the Colonial Drive development, for different but compatible reasons. That’s over 2300 reasons for Ealing to think hard about the wisdom of the proposed development. And that’s not to mention the over 200 hand-crafted letters and another 200 form letters to the planning officer.

Massive Silent Vigil at Colonial Drive Site Visit

Just some of the many members of HOOT, AGRA, AGSOS and more on silent vigil for Ealing Council Planning Committee’s Site Visit to Colonial Drive and Gunnersbury Triangle

Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to join the enormous silent vigil today. Over 120 people from HOOT, Acton Green Residents’ Association, Acton Green Save Our Skyline, St Alban’s Church Community Association and further afield joined together in silence to let Ealing Council’s planning committee know the depth of feeling and opposition to the proposed development at Colonial Drive, right on the edge of the much-loved Gunnersbury Triangle nature reserve.

It is rare for a local issue to bring so many people out on to the streets of Ealing. The dignified and respectful protest was made first on the road just in front of the entrance to the Colonial Drive site as the planning committee arrived. This was followed by a peaceful walkabout in the Gunnersbury Triangle itself. The councillors took the time on this beautiful spring day to familiarise themselves with the layout of the nature reserve. They saw for themselves the real scale of the impact the proposed development would have on the reserve and on the local residents who love the Triangle.

The reserve looked its best, its paths neat, the brambles cut back, the Hawthorn white with great drifts of May blossom and the Broom a blaze of brilliant yellow. The sun shone down on the lush grass and butterflies skipped past as representatives from HOOT answered councillors’ questions and countered the assertions of the developers.

Authorities Object to Ealing about Development

We’re delighted to be able to report that both the local MP Angie Bray and the other local council involved, Hounslow – who own the Gunnersbury Triangle and are therefore an involved party in the matter – have strongly objected to Ealing Council about Blackstone’s proposals for 2 Colonial Drive. Everybody who’s had a chance to think about the proposals can see for themselves that the area will be better without an 8-storey building jammed right up against the Gunnersbury Triangle boundary. If you haven’t done so already, contact your local councillors and tell them what you think.

HOOT hands 1200-signature petition to Cllr Gary Malcolm on 28 April 2012

HOOT hands petition to Cllr Gary Malcolm on 28 April 2012

HOOT hands petition to Cllr Gary Malcolm at Gunnersbury Triangle

Having collected well over 1000 signatures on paper and online in the past few weeks, HOOT today handed the petition against Blackstone’s proposal for Gunnersbury Triangle. We were delighted that all three Southfield Ward councillors Gary Malcolm, Andrew Steed and Harvey Rose (all Liberal Democrats) visited the Triangle, and that so many people (more than in the photo) came to show their support. And still the signatures come rolling in! We’ll collect them all up and ensure a final delivery to Ealing’s planning officer in time for her report to the planning committee.

Now THREE Local Groups Oppose the Development!

We’ll never walk alone, sing the football fans. Well, we’re not alone in fighting Blackstone’s either. Both Acton Green Residents’ Association (AGRA), covering the whole Acton Green area, and Acton Green SOS (Save our Skyline), focussed on the immediate area around Montgomery Road and Ivy Crescent, are vigorously campaigning and canvassing against development. They are objecting for different reasons from HOOT, but all their reasons are directly connected to the excessive size and housing unit density that Blackstone’s have proposed.

For instance Acton Green SOS list their reasons as:

  1. Completely inappropriate to character of Acton Green and Chiswick
  2. Skylines lost forever
  3. Enlargement of local population
  4. Parking
  5. Office encroachment
  6. Massive compromise to designated Nature Reserve, Gunnersbury Triangle

Many of their reasons will no doubt chime with HOOT members’ views also. Acton Green SOS can be contacted at agsaveourskyline@gmail.com – we wish them well.

David Bellamy (botanist, TV presenter, campaigner) signs HOOT petition! … and writes to Ealing, too

David Bellamy signed our petition today, adding:
“I was involved from the very first campaign to save the triangle in 1982 and it is as important today as it was then.”

Update: “A Terrible Wrong”

… and he also wrote to Ealing’s Planning Department
to oppose the development, saying

“I am extremely concerned to hear that Ealing Council is considering a planning application which might allow an up-to eight-storey building close to the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve.

In 1983 I was delighted to be involved in saving this wonderful site from development. The Public Inquiry at that time set a precedent in the UK in its ruling that urban nature should be favoured over commercial development.

It would be a terrible wrong to undo the spirit of that ruling by approving a development which would remove many of the benefits which were granted by this decision.

This is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. I urge you to refuse this planning application, and to leave this lovely place for Nature.”

Jan Hewlett Interview on ChiswickW4.com

Under the heading “They Do Give a Hoot”, ChiswickW4.com declares that “Local group continues fight to save Gunnersbury Triangle nature reserve”. Read all about it.

Council Planners to meet on 16 May

The Ealing Council planning report on the Blackstone development will come out soon, leaving just a few days before the planning committee meet on 16 May to decide on its fate. The report will contain the planning officer’s summary of all the many objections to the proposal. HOOT will study the report and prepare a response. We’ll also hand in the petition.

Exciting Wildlife Sightings

Spring has sprung! After the amazing March sunshine, April showers… Sightings include fighting female Sparrowhawks (see photos on the Wildlife page), while delights for the ear have included singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, recently arrived on migration from Africa.

Hundreds sign Petition!

Signing the HOOT petition - Leaflets and Campaign Flyers on the table at the reserve.

People have been queuing up to sign both the paper petition at the reserve and in the High Street, and the online petition.

Many petitioners are local, but visitors to the reserve from all over Britain have registered their objections, and the online petition has attracted worldwide interest.

Reasons given by online petitioners include “for the sake of the wildlife”; “it sets a huge precedent for other developments on small areas of green space”; “green spaces in London… must be preserved to enrich the lives of the community”; “an impoortant local oasis and community”; “Urban wild spaces are vital for all in high-stress times caused by corporate greed”; “This is a wonderful space much used”; “a long-established and cherished nature haven”; “The nature reserve would lose its wilderness feel. The building proposed would overshadow the reserve making it darker and less interesting and too many people, too much noise and too much light will drive away the wildlife and spoil the habitat.”; “Such spots as Gunnersbury Triangle are rare in the city and fulfil several vital functions, for both wildlife and people.”; “The building is simply too tall, too close to the reserve and is going to destroy the tranquil atmosphere of the triangle that local people know and love. I am not anti-development by any means, but building such a large high-rise block (with little social housing) is NOT going to benefit the local community, and the detrimental effect to the Triangle surely won’t either.”; “I know this area having visited on several occasions. There are precious few natural areas left for people to enjoy peace, quiet and the natural environment. Please save this one for the enjoyment and sustenance of local people as well as the wildlife it supports”; “Nature reserves of such quality in dense urban areas need proper protection, and that includes truly sustainable design of nearby development.”; “I grew up near this area. These developments have neither economic nor social rationale.”; “Please don’t damage a precious green area – London is famous for being green and we can’t reverse the effects ever.”; “This proposed development would impact on the wildlife that thrives here and completely change the nature of this beautiful and tranquil little space. ” and many more. Read them for yourself! 2 April 2012

Earth Hour at Gunnersbury Triangle!

Saturday 31st March, 8pm was EARTH HOUR. We celebrated the earth’s wild places with our children, and showed solidarity with HOOT against encroaching development, by coming along to enjoy your Earth Hour. People arrived from all over London, a very good turnout despite the cold evening.

The Speakers, Helen and Marie

Helen Wallis gave a “Creatures of the Night” talk by the entrance to the reserve. Marie read some delightful poems about Night. Then Helen led a torchlit walk around the reserve to look at newts (which are nocturnal!) and minibeasts.

Details: London Wildlife Trust: Earth Hour at Gunnersbury Triangle

After the public consultation

The current state of play: the consultation has officially ended. Many people have told us they have written to Ealing’s Planning Department – thank you! – and at least 30 more handed letters in at the Triangle itself, which we forwarded to Ealing. Even more people have signed the petition – thank you again – and we’re still collecting signatures. The Planning Department is now preparing its report for the council’s Planning Committee to consider. According to their website, they will meet around the end of April.

What happens next: We are planning further action and will keep you informed on progress.

Blackstone’s latest photos

Blackstone have recently released a Design and Access Statement Addendum, containing more photos illustrating the extent that the development will encroach on to the reserve.


Rendered View of Site from Back of Meadow on Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve Looking East


Rendered View of Site from Deep in Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve Behind the Pond Looking North East

The full document with detailed views of the development can be found here.

We are Getting Publicity

    • Hundreds of people have signed the HOOT petition – join them now!
    • The Hounslow Chronicle has published a detailed article on HOOT and the immediate threat to the Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve
    • There’s a lively discussion under way on the CHISWICK W4

debating forum – people have many different points of view. Add yours today!

Hops growing over signboard for Gunnersbury Triangle Local Nature Reserve, near Chiswick Park Underground