The Olympia Battle is due to start
next month, when a Public Inquiry will be held. Over 400 residents
of 30 different streets in the neighbourhood, residents associations
and local organisations are ready to fight St George plans to
build 251 residential units where the Olympia Car Park is currently
located. If St. George has the go ahead, the Maclise Road woodland
will disappear, among many other adverse consequences to current
and future residents.
The woodland is a scarce green lung in the area. St George proposal
would destroy 90% of the woodland and its diverse flora and fauna,
including a number of protected species. The site contains squirrels,
frogs among other amphibians and reptiles and many trees such
as Holm oak, ash, elder, sycamore and apple. Bats do use the green
area as a feeding site on reported sightings on various occasions.
Due the density of berry-bearing shrubs it is particularly attractive
to migratory birds for feeding and there is a variety of breeding
birds, including blackbirds, wood pigeons, warbles, thrushes,
jays, magpies, wrens, robins and woodpecker. It can be found there
several types of funghi, such as hypholoma, judas' ears, polypores,
russulae, peziza and saffron caps. Residents reported months ago
the sight of house sparrows, whose population is declining dramatically
in London, and Sparrohawk, a bird of prey that was threatened
by extinction in the 50's and 60's. This spring, bluebells, violets
and speedwell appeared in great numbers in the site. This is all
"Losing the woodland would
be a tragedy for the animals that live on it, and for the residents
who enjoy it - and for what? For St George to make a huge profit
out of several hundred more expensive, short-term business-rental-type
properties: unlikely to contribute much to the life of our local
community", says Alan Jenkins, a literary editor who lives
at 130 Sinclair Road.
Both councils involved, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington
and Chelsea, have unanimously rejected the first Planning Application
to develop the Olympia Car Park. But the biggest developer in
London won't be stopped easily. The company appealed against the
councils' decision and now a Public Enquiry will be held from
the 3rd September.
Together with residents and other local organisations, SRRA is
working to present a "rock-solid case" at the Planning
Enquiry. The association requested independent specialist advice.
One of the country's leading environmental consultancies have
produced the first of three biodiversity report, the most complete
ever conducted on the site, showing how important the preservation
- and enhancement - of the Olympia Car Park green space is to
St George plans are for a 435m long predominantly five-storey
continuous block of flats abutting the railway, with a two-storey
house at each end. The site, known as the Olympia car park, is
situated just to the north of Olympia Exhibition Centre. It is
a thin strip of land, running in a south-east to north-west direction,
between the West London Railway line and the rear of the nos.
2 to 150 Sinclair Road.
Alan Jenkins says: "It would
involve destroying the two-acre woodland which is a valuable tract
of green space (a "green corridor") in a borough that
has very few green spaces; it is a habitat for a variety of wildlife
and a contributor to the biodiversity of the area - biodiversity
and ecological factors are given great prominence in the report
on planning for London published recently by the Mayor's office."
The Mayor's Biodiversity Strategy expects planning permission
to be refused if a proposed development has a significant adverse
effect on land identified as being important for nature conservation
and the Maclise Road woodland has received such status by the
The whole of the proposed development
site lies within a "Green Corridor", as designated in
the Unitary Development Plans (UDPs) of both LBHF and RBK&C.
The land is also a Site of Nature Conservations Importance Grade
Both councils specially acknowledge the benefit from the trees.
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) was placed on all the trees of
the site in December 2002 by LBHF and RBK&C. The order makes
it an offence to cut down, uproot prune, damage or destroy the
tree or trees in question.
The London Biodiversity Strategy also identified that there is
a particular lack of woodland in central boroughs north of the
Thames and eastwards into Essex. "The seven boroughs along
the Thames, from Hammersmith and Fulham to Barking and Dageham
have less than 20 hectares of woodland between them, denying residents
easy access to this popular habitat", says the document.
So scarce is woodland in this part
of London that the site alone, with 0.5 hectare of woodland, accounts
for over 3% of the total amount present in the seven London boroughs
adjoining the Thames from Barking to Hammersmith and Fulham.
"The loss of a precious little
woodland area with its mature trees and the stupidity of putting
such a huge building on such a small and inappropriate site and
you can understand why we simply do not want it", says Lynda
Trapnell, from 28a Sinclair Road.
Apart of the consequences to the local fauna and flora, the lost
of the woodland would also have several side effects to residents
as pointed out in the document submitted by Case Officer Niko
Grigoropoulos to LBHF Planning Committee: "The area is already
densely populated and suffers low standard of air quality. The
lost of the woodland, a green lung in the area, while the car
fumes would experience within a more enclosed area, resulting
in increased incidence of asthma, especially children."
The report concludes: "The applicants fail to provide any
nature conservation measures within their development to further
the intentions of the green corridor designation. The total coverage
(with the exception of the northernmost tip) of the site with
buildings and road surface means that there is no space available
to provide open space and trees within the site. The proposal
would result in the loss of an existing nature conservation asset,
endanger mature trees in the rear gardens of the Sinclair Road
properties, make no contribution whatsoever to bio-diversity,
open space or play area provision. It would instead result in
the destruction of an existing open space, woodland, TPO trees
and would provide sterile built environment, to the detriment
of the amenities of local residents and the future occupiers of
Residents are also concerned about the danger and lack of security
if the green corridor is removed. People will be able to invade
most of the houses, since the gardens are not prepared to prevent
that at the present. And the proposed building, amplified by the
loss of the woodland, would contrast with the appearance and treatment
of the rear elevation of the Sinclair Road terraced properties.
"At present we look out onto woodlands. If the development
was to take place we would look out onto other flats and be overlooked
by them, affecting light and privacy", says Monica Aroma,
resident at 128 Sinclair Road.
St George development will suppose many other adverse consequences
to residents in terms of traffic congestion, parking space, road,
noise and safety. Watch out this space next week when residents
will be speaking up.
For more up-to-date information on how to stop St George development:
SRRA Web site