Residents to Have Say on Town Hall Plan

Council promise more consultation on King Street regeneration

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Local residents have given their first reaction to the news that Hammersmith & Fulham Council is looking for a developer to come up with plans to demolish its ugly eyesore town hall extension to make way for a new public square and civic buildings.

Residents from Cromwell Avenue and surrounding roads were the first to be consulted on the proposal at a meeting on April 25. Local people heard how the seven storey, 1960s concrete extension could be replaced with a new piazza which will open up views of the art deco façade of the original town hall.

Councillor Nicholas Botterill, cabinet member for environment, explained that the new brief differs from the previously unpopular scheme which was proposed in 2004. At that time the prospect of a Tesco superstore led to a strong reaction from local residents with celebrities such as Vanessa Redgrave involved in a successful campaign.

Cllr. Botterill said, "The proposals that were eventually brought forward last time were wrong in several ways, not least because the views of local people weren't listened to properly. This is different and right from the outset we are going to be open and transparent."

He added that the Council are absolutely clear that this is a council led, not developer led, scheme and they are a council that listens to residents. The initial brief is also clear. All of the
designs which they are going to consider must retain Marryat Court, Cromwell Avenue and the line of trees and must explore the feasibility of including a small cinema.

Residents at the meeting heard how the council has now tendered a development brief, to explore the development potential of the site, before deciding which, if any, scheme to pursue.

The council's advisers, Cushman & Wakefield, are running a competition for development of the existing site -which also includes the council car park on Nigel Playfair Avenue. The competition is to decide which scheme delivers the best value for money to the borough's taxpayers, the best opportunity to regenerate this run-down part of King Street and the least disruption to local residents. If all of those pre-requisites are met and if the sums add up, the preferred scheme would then be the subject of extensive public consultation, probably early next year, before a planning decision is taken.

Local resident, Raj Bhatia, Chairman of the Stamford Brook Residents' Association said, "Having listened to the initial design brief I do believe that it's a good idea to rationalise council accommodation, optimise land use and regenerate an important, but run down part of King Street. If the plans come off and they get through all the various stages this could bring investment, much needed housing, employment, shops, restaurants and cafes, and environmental improvements for local people. "

Councillor Botterill answered questions at the meeting and said that officers will meet with the owners of the Pocklington building to consider the position of their existing tenants.

Cllr Botterill concluded, "I will ensure that however this proposal progresses that everybody affected, including the Pocklington residents, are treated decently. This is about regeneration and improving the lot of local people."

The meeting heard a range of views and suggestions including a proposal to introduce an architectural competition to the brief.

The council has received 17 applications of interest from developers. This number will be cut down to between 3 -10 by the tender appraisal panel and the Cabinet in May. Once the final short list has been decided a dialogue phase starts where the council will invite the potential developers in to discuss their tenders. This process should be finished by September 2007. Cabinet will take a decision at the November Cabinet meeting.

May 11, 2007