At a planning committee meeting last night, Richmond Council granted permission for the plans which will see Teddington Studios demolished to make way for 219 luxury residential units. Councillors voted 5 to 4 so it wasn’t quite a unanimous decision as the development was hotly debated for pros and cons.
The plans were described by councillors as ‘exceptional circumstances’, meaning the plan for such a large development of luxury flats in such density goes against LBRUT and London planning policies. The ‘exceptional’ in this case is weighing up the development up against £8 million that the plans would give LBRUT to use for affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. Other councillors have pointed out that this clause is often used by developers but should be in the context of an already identified site (this is not yet), also the design of the blocks wasn’t to their liking. Funding for affordable housing generally isn’t an issue in the borough, but finding the land for it is.
Other positive aspects considered are the opening up of access to a new public river walkway and the planned media centre at Richmond College that Haymarket will also fund. The adverse effect the development would have on primary education in the area was played down in the face of the other benefits to education within the borough in general.
No approaches had been made for a new tenant to move into historic studios that would have kept them open so this was a case of deciding the best use for the site vs it being empty. Recognition of the history of the studios is included as a condition – a walkway including the existing Blue Plaques will form part of the development. The catalyst for this development Pinewood announcing their intention to leave Teddington in 2011 and when their tenancy finishes at the end of this year. it will see the end of the studios association with the area that has lasted 100 years.
The Environment Agency originally objected to the plans but reversed their viewpoint due to flood mitigation and evacuation plans. Haymarket at a meeting earlier this year stated that the river would be used as much as possible to transport material to and from the site during work – reducing the impact on nearby roads. 258 parking spaces (mostly underground) will help reduce any parking overspill into surrounding roads.