Hounslow Cycling is the borough group of the London Cycling Campaign. We campaign for better cycling facilities in Hounslow. We do not normally comment on planning applications but this would be a strategically important development in a particularly sensitive location. A4 severance is already problematic for cyclists and pedestrians at Gillette Corner, the proposed Hounslow Priority Cycle Route 10 is nearby, cycling to the schools in the area should be encouraged, as should active travel to the new developments.
The developer wants to build 1,677 new flats on the old Tesco site and 473 on the Homebase site. Pedestrian and cyclist access is currently poor and public transport not much better. The development will significantly increase the use of cars in the area, potentially contradicting the Hounslow Local Improvement Plan, the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and other Hounslow and London policy aims relating to air quality, climate change and road safety. Hounslow Cycling believes that four points should be addressed as conditions of planning permission, listed below in order of priority.
Firstly, residential car parking provision and cycle parking should comply with the quantitative limits in the London Plan. Moreover the cycle parking should be of good quality – accessible, well lit, dry and secure. This will help to address car dependency from the outset. This approach would be consistent with the developers’ objectives as set out in the Syon Lane Future document.
Secondly, the developer should fund adequate investment in better pedestrian and cycle routes by London Borough of Hounslow (‘LBH’) and Transport for London (‘TfL’):-
- Gillette Corner lies to the SE of the site. The A4 widens to 10 lanes at this point to accommodate filter lanes for traffic turning right. The surface level crossings are slow and frustrating to use, with cattle pens of limited capacity in the central reservation. The only satisfactory crossing for pedestrians and cyclists is the subway that runs from the N corner to the E corner, i.e. the Gillette building to the Homebase car park. That is only 7’6″ wide so capacity is similar to the Greenwich foot tunnel. The access ramps are also narrow and the southern end currently emerges four steps higher than the car park. We believe that TfL should budget for a wider tunnel, with attractive entrance treatments and reassuring CCTV and lighting.
- Syon Lane crosses the Piccadilly Line about 600m NW of the site. All traffic must pass through this pinch point. This stretch of road is dangerous for cyclists as the carriageway is wide enough to encourage car drivers to overtake but too narrow for them to do so safely. The footway is on one side of the road only, and it is unattractive due to the speed and volume of passing traffic. LBH has an ambition to create route 10 of the Hounslow Priority Cycle Network linking West Middlesex Hospital in the south to Osterley Park and Ealing in the north. We believe that LBH should estimate the cost of this route, including the Hounslow Loop and Piccadilly Line crossings, and budget accordingly.
- Osterley tube station is around a mile from the site, to the W. Boston Manor tube station is less than a mile from the site as the crow flies, to the NE. The Sky campus, a goods line, the canal and the M4 lie in between so the effective distance is more like 2 miles but the LBH bike lane from the A4 to the tube station is high quality. Either tube station can thus be reached by cyclists using the existing bike lane along the N pavement of the A4. We suggest that TfL should budget for the upgrade of that bike lane from Osterley to Boston Manor road.
All of the above points are opportunities as much as threats. Housing availability and cost is a serious issue for young people in the area. Development of new homes is obviously desirable. If sufficient investment is made in active travel then that development can be achieved in a way that accords with the transport and environmental objectives of Hounslow and London. Our members would, of course, welcome that.