Artist's impression of new Imperial College development
A TOWER branded 'west London's Shard' will dominate the skyline above Shepherd's Bush after permission was granted for a major new development in White City.
The 35-storey, 141-metre tall skyscraper, which will house 192 flats, will take over from the 117-metre high Empress State Building as the borough's highest. It will be part of a new campus for Imperial College London at one of the former homes of the BBC, Woodlands in Wood Lane.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council gave permission for the scheme despite concerns from residents over its scale. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said he would back threats by opponents to take the authority to court over the decision, saying: "I will do all I can to support the wreckers in the Town Hall against a development that will be west London's Shard." The Shard in London Bridge is Europe's tallest building.
The new campus and residential hub will consist of seven buildings between five-35 storeys. The skyscraper will also house a restaurant and underground car park. There will be new research and teaching buildings, a hub for start-up technology businesses and a hotel. A new 4,000sq m public square will house a children's play zone and works of art.
The first phase of the development, okayed in October 2010, has already almost been built, with 606 student flats set to be ready for the start of the new academic year this September. Building on the next phase could start early next year.
The council, which approved phase two at a meeting last Wednesday (25), says the complex will provide more than 3,000 jobs and s8m in community benefits for what is has dubbed the White City Opportunity Area.
But residents believe the decision was unlawful. Henry Peterson, chairman of the St Helens Residents' Association, said: "The council and the Greater London Authority gave Imperial an informal green light to these proposals two years ago. They are now struggling to justify a massive over development which makes no sense at this location."
Council leader Nick Botterill denied any wrongdoing, saying: "This development was approved on its own merits and met all planning criteria, as laid out in the councils and mayor of Londons planning policies. It signals a huge opportunity for residents and businesses in the borough, bringing thousands of jobs and millions of pounds in investment for the local area."
As part of the planning consent, Imperial College will give more than s2.4m towards the Cross Rail project and s4m for an east-west pedestrian link under the West London railway. Cash will also be spent on improving road safety in Wood Lane, planting trees in Eynham Road and funding crime prevention across White City,
In addition, Burlington Danes Academy and Phoenix High School will be allowed to use some of the new learning facilities.