Back in the mid 1990s, when people were less enthusiastic about growing their own, the then Acton Housing Association, predecessor of monolith A2Dominion, were permitted to build eight proper family houses on the western part of the privately owned but Hounslow Leisure Services run allotments at Rothbury Gardens.
The eastern part of the allotments, behind the garages block by Platform 1 of Syon Lane Station, said to be covering buried utilities mains, were to be left alone. It was later occupied by the Eco Villagers, displaced from the former Plough public house, Kew Bridge Road by those Berkeleys.
The Villagers, on an annual licence, set about resurrecting, in their own way, a place to grow organically, welcomed residents to tend to mini plots and offered schools projects. This ended around 2015 when the land was sold, locked up and left to its own natural devices. Apart from the odd rough sleeper, residents raised very few complaints.
On 27 January 2020, quite abruptly and without notice to neighbours or anyone else, a local tree felling outfit arrived. Blocking the approach to the Station with unauthorised placing of their trucks and began to rip out trees and scrape other vegetation. What happened to the foxes, no one knows.
Accompanied by a resident, visiting Rothbury Gardens to find out more, we were lied to, as was anyone who asked, that the works were taking place as instructed by “the council” and the disturbance continued. The tree decimation was cleared as was some but not all of the effects of the eco village.
Site hoardings were erected, without planning permission but this was later rectified and consent given in September 2020.
On 24 November 2021, some residents again contacted me, very concerned about new extensive works carried out by stealth, without any notice to neighbours or Hounslow Council.
After the first lorry turned up on 10 December to start laying aggregate, allegedly “to suppress any weed growth”, the council’s planning officers were alerted and a planning enforcement site inspection followed on 13 December 2021. I was advised that this activity was permitted but then, on 21 December, a neighbour spoke of further disregard for pedestrian and highway safety, shipping containers began to be placed.
At one point Police were called and attended when a grab lorry was dumping aggregate over telephone lines at the eastern end of the site whilst at the same time blocking pedestrian access to Syon Lane Station.
Raising this with the Head of Planning Enforcement the land owner’s agents were written to asking for a proper planning application be submitted to the council by 1 February 2021 to allow for a formal assessment whether the containers may be retained on site.
Bank holidays excepted, between before Christmas and until 25 January 2022, despite numerous relaying of residents’ almost daily reports and photographic evidence of, often unsafe, activity there, works continued without any commmunication with neighbours, construction management and vehicle access plan, plus other safeguards ahead of this now retrospective submission.
Unfortunately, this appeared to be an example of interests playing an austerity affected and under resourced neighbourhoods planning system, often and increasingly stacked against communities and less likely to be operating at full capacity over the holiday season.
A planning application has now been submitted, along with accompanying documents.
It is described as a, “Retrospective application for the temporary change of use of the land to open storage and associated works for 3 years.”
The application can be found online via the Hounslow Council Planning pages, and accessed using either System Reference P/2022/0388 or Planning Reference 00965/B/P13, Land at Rothbury Gardens, Isleworth, TW7 5JG.
Documents submitted can also be found, below:
The applicant’s Planning Statement
I have asked the Area Planning Manager to ensure that all households in Rothbury Gardens, Hexham Gardens and others nearby in Warkworth Gardens are sent letters offering the opportunity to comment.
After reading the submitted planning documents, anyone wishing to make individual representations on this application please send these quoting System Reference P/2022/0388 to firstname.lastname@example.org