BATTLE lines have been drawn in the fight for disused land in South Fulham after plans were announced to build homes and offices on the site earmarked for the Thames Tunnel.
The owners of the derelict Whiffen and Hurlingham Wharfs, as well as the Carnwath Road Industrial Estate, say they want to build nearly 500 riverside homes, shops and offices in Carnwath Road, which has long been coveted by the council as being a prime regeneration area.
It is one of the main reasons why the authority is so against the controversial 20-mile long 'super sewer', which could cause disruption in the area for years if Thames Water gets its way and houses one of three main building sites in Carnwath Road.
The alternative plans, submitted by the Fulham Riverside West Partnership, have been split into three applications and would see restaurants, shops and new public areas joining the new flats. The Thames path would also be opened up to pedestrians and cyclists.
A consultation on the proposals will be launched shortly and the plans will be considered later this year. But the project hinges on whether a review into the viability of the super sewer is launched by the government. Mayor Boris Johnson has called for the project to be scrutinised after the project cost rose above £4.1bn.
Carnwath Road resident Andrew Jelley said a new housing development would be preferential to the sewer. He said: "As an alternative to the super sewer, these plans are great. It's coming down to a straight choice between the two and I don't see how anyone could prefer the sewer."
But some residents are more cautious, fearing the alternative plans could involve high-rise blocks. No specific details on height have been released but documents approved by the council last month say buildings on the road could be up to 16-storeys high.
Tony Bird, of the Association of Breer, Carnwath and Dymock Residents, said: "Our group very much fears landowners will be able to build the sort of tower blocks imposed on the south side of the river at Battersea Reach."
Council leader Nick Botterill said: "The local community has been helping to shape a vision to transform the area from its industrial past into a new residential mixed-use area.
"In a series of workshops, which were coordinated by the Prince’s Foundation, local residents were able to put forward their views and there was overwhelming support for mixed-use schemes, including the desire to provide better access to the Thames Path, high quality urban design and a renewed focus on the river."
He added: "It is clear Thames Water’s super-sewer threatens to devastate south Fulham and, whatever the outcome of the plans for new homes and jobs, we will fight this costly and unnecessary stink-pipe all the way."