Hammersmith Save-The-Skyline Protest Meeting Packed

Over 400 residents signed in to block Conservative government's plans

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Over 400 angry residents of Hammersmith, Fulham and Barnes crowded into the Methodist Church on Wednesday 14th October to protest against plans to redevelop King's Street.

Representatives from Conservative, Liberal and Labour residents presented their views on why the idea to build 14-storey luxury appartments, office blocks and replace the local cinema with a supermarket were completely against local needs, requirements or desire for the new build to go ahead.

While people were angry, they were more concerned that alternatives were not being presented and their views were not being listened to. Key objections were the height of the buildings - residents from both sides of the river north and south banks - thought the views would be spoilt. The bridge across Furnival Gardens, the developing of a supermarket on the site of the 1920s cinema were the next two greatest objections. Tesco owns the freehold of the cinerma and it is thought most likely that this supermarket giant to get planning permission. Local businesses are mainly against another Tesco in the area as the supermarket has already been named as one of the key reasons for small traders going bust since the opening of Tesco Metro on King's Street. More importantly there are over 20 supermarkets and mini-supermarkets in a one-square mile radius.

Due process was the key party-political point raised by residents who were anxious that they were being steam-rolled into a decision without proper consultations being held, letters written to authorities being stonewalled and on a key procedureal point the planning department applying to itself for permission.

On an environmental issue, concerns were raised that Hammersmith which is on a flood plane could be adversly impacted by flooding as these buildings would put presure on the subsoil causing increased flooding.

From the perspective of quality of life several people from both sides of the property market - those in high value residences and those in social housing were alarmed at the impact of the buildings on their quality of life. One resident from social housing said that there were likely to be coffee shops 20 feet from residents windows while another in sheltered housing for the blind said rehousing the blind would be challenging as coping in a new unfamiliar territory would be emotionally stressful.

The most impactful of the speeches came from the borough's youth who said that the buildings - especially the cinema - which they loved would go and with it a way of life and a safe socialising ground. As one 14-year old put it "All Hammersmith needs is love not new buildings".

October 13, 2010