Hammersmith Society objects to plans after new images show true impact
New visualisation of the King Street scheme showing relative heights
The Hammersmith Society has written a letter of objection to Hammersmith & Fulham Council over plans by M&S to build a ten-storey tower in King Street after new images showed the true impact they would have on their surroundings.
The society says the scheme needs “wholesale improvement” and describe it as “a large intrusion” and “of alien scale”.
And it says this “substantially overbuilt” proposal, along with equally inappropriate plans in Oxford Street risk turning Marks & Spencer “from natural treasure to planning pariah”.
As we reported in September, the plans produced for M&S by Reef Group architects involve demolishing the existing ‘not-fit-for purpose’ two storey building in Hammersmith’s King Street and creating a new ‘market style’ store selling only food, with a ten-storey tower above providing over 400 units of student accommodation.
At the time, the society was critical of the developers' “coyness” in showing the scale of the student blocks and their effect on the surroundings, pointing out that this ten-storey tower would be higher than the Broadway buildings and would overshadow Lyric Square.
Relative heights of King Street scheme from a broader perspective (new building on right)
In frustration, they countered this with their own approximation overlaid onto a Google Earth 3D view of King Street.
Now the developers have come forward with these North and East elevations on the consultation website and the society says, “ Our very approximate CGI was reasonably accurate dimensionally, if not aesthetically, and at 47m, this undistinguished proposal is of alien scale, substantially higher than the Lyric, and a large intrusion on the King Street horizon.”
It points out that the large towers added in the background are the proposed Landmark House, which are not yet built and may be subject to future design changes.
The society is also critical of H&F Council for failing to produce a Town Centre Masterplan, saying of the proposals, “ Acceptance at this dimension would set a bulk and height precedent along King Street, especially in the continuing absence of an issued Town Centre Masterplan, or planning brief, a subject on which we repeatedly remind the council is nearly five years overdue.”
The letter of objection, written by the society’s Vice Chair Richard Winterton, can be read in full here.
It includes criticism of the architecture, saying the " undistinguished" building is too dominant, especially in long views down King Street and from Lyric Square, an alien form amongst the small scale shops, its height on the south side of the street taking away sunshine and daylight from King Street.
A visualisation of the new store published by M&S
It is also critical of the late consultation, held only eight weeks before submission of a planning application, meaning there has been no time for scheme adjustments to accommodate public comment and expresses concern that if consent is given to the proposals they are likely to set a pattern, imposing an alien scale and development density which would crush the characteristics of informality and intimacy so special to King Street.
The letter concludes:
1 The proposals do not comply with local and national planning policy. The scheme brings only shadow and bulk to the town centre, and fails to respond to the planning ambition to regenerate the qualities and character of King Street.
2 A design strategy for King Street is critically urgent to provide a framework for the regeneration: without this, the current proposals could set an irresistible precedent for the development of the whole south side, overwhelming the scale and intimacy of King Street.
3 The design of the student buildings needs wholesale improvement: they are too big, too dominant, they fail to provide the 'highest architectural quality' required by planning policy, and they present an ill-fitting façade to King Street.
The Hammersmith Society adds: " We hope to see a more reasonable proposal."
What the store on King Street currently looks like
A planning application is expected to be submitted soon and, if it gains approval, the store will shut next summer with an expected completion of the development in Autumn/Winter 2024.
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November 4, 2022
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