As part of a large-scale regeneration project for Hounslow Town Centre, a major new mixed-used scheme from Barratt is in the works, which will bring over 500 private and affordable homes to West London. Jack Wooler reports.
Arranged around a new public square in Hounslow, High Street Quarter will include 528 new homes and over 134,000 ft2 of commercial floor space, as well as a new 10-screen multiplex cinema. The development is sited a five- minute walk from Hounslow Central and Hounslow East tube stations, served by the Piccadilly Line, with Heathrow Airport just 10 minutes away.
The project is being led by Barratt London, with affordable housing to be provided by L&Q. The affordable homes will encompass 41 per cent of the overall housing units, including some rented and others on a shared ownership basis, with Help to Buy also on offer.
Barratt London has been heavily invested in the Hounslow project since 2012, when the company first won a bid to acquire the site from Hounslow Council. The design team also consists of architects TP Bennett, and planning consultants Carter Jonas.
Site & constraints
Hounslow already benefits from a prosperous and diverse town centre, with a range of high street shopping amenities and restaurants. Barratt’s new development is set right in the heart of Hounslow’s commercial centre, meaning that residents will benefit from all of the perks that offers. In addition to the strong transport links with the rest of London, it is in close proximity to the city’s many attractions and job opportunities. A short walk away, Hounslow Heath also provides the area with a natural reserve, being one of the largest parks in the borough.
Working in the middle of a town centre always comes with its challenges however, given the busy nature of the location, combined with the size of this scheme. Barratt London predicts successful navigation of the undoubted issues in store however, due to its “comprehensive project execution plan that foresees all eventualities.”
The route in and out of the site, for instance, has been carefully planned all the way to the nearest motorways to minimise any impact on the local community. In addition, the delivery schedule factors in the high number of students walking nearby the site, and will see large deliveries such as tower cranes arriving very early or leaving ahead of rush hour to avoid further disrupting traffic.
One contentious part of the planning process was the fact that a car park would have to be demolished to make room for the development. This of course raised issues initially, but Barratt have appeased the planners with a secure, underground car park extending across the site with 250 commercial and 160 residential spaces as part of the masterplan. The developer will also work with the council to direct people towards alternative car parking in the nearby area for the time being.
Danny Farenden, projects director at Barratt London (West), explains how the team tackled planning constraints via a careful consultative approach: “The planning process for a scheme of this scale is never easy, and the design had to undergo iterations through consultation with our project stakeholders before we were able to settle on an agreed scheme with Hounslow Council.
“Of particular importance – due to the scheme’s town centre location – was our extensive consultation with statutory authorities, such as fire, airport, and ecological bodies that represent the area. It was critical that the scheme was compliant with their own aspirations for the project.”
As part of the scheme, Barratt established a network of local businesses, consisting of representatives from the adjacent Asda store, as well as the Blenheim Centre (a shopping/leisure centre), and a further shopping centre called the Treaty Centre, as well the local GP practice. The network continues to meet frequently to discuss the impact that the project is having on their operations to date, and raise any concerns or queries. According to Farenden, the developer has received “an overwhelming amount of support” for the scheme from the group, in the hope that footfall and revenue will be increased for nearby commercial enterprises.
He continued: “We also meet regularly with a working group of interested local stakeholders, including residents, councillors and resident groups operating within the area.
“The overarching feedback has been that everyone is looking forward to taking advantage of what High Street Quarter will bring to the community in the form of new residences and new amenities.”
Homes & public space
Over 40 per cent of the homes will be ‘affordable,’ split equally between afford- able rent and shared ownership, and spread across all four blocks at the development. Upon completion, High Street Quarter will deliver 528 one, two and three-bedroom homes. Residential accommodation will be spread across four new residential blocks, including a 27-storey tower, together with the 15 new commercial units of varying size and the cinema.
Each of the homes have been meticu- lously designed to derive maximum benefit for residents from the available space. Design elements seen in the development include open plan living and dining areas, fully integrated German-designed kitchens and stylish lighting, with interior designers employed to ensure that the homes look their best from day one. As well as this, residents can rest easy with CCTV security system coverage across all residential build- ings and entrances.
Farenden provided some more detail: “The apartments above shops have generous balconies and large windows letting in plenty of light, and the apart- ments will take advantage of our quality communal amenity space being provided in the scheme.
“The public spaces have been designed as a series of distinctive areas, each having a different character reflected in their scale and presentation. Ecological features across the scheme will include bird boxes, bat boxes, biodiverse living roofs and wildlife- friendly plants.”
It is hoped that the 27-storey tower will act as a landmark and visual marker for the town centre when seen from further afield. Barratt’s intention is to create a “vibrant new town square” at the centre of the scheme, where the community can come together to enjoy the various new amenities that are being delivered at High Street Quarter. This will include a brand new public realm, seasonal market offerings, and a volleyball, kabaddi and leisure amenity space for use throughout the year.
A first step
Danny described the project’s target demographic: “We expect a large proportion of buyers to come from the immediate area and surrounding neigh- bourhoods, with a range of housing aspirations from one-bedroom apartments for first time buyers to three-bedroom homes for growing families.”
He continued: “All homes at High Street Quarter are below the Government’s Help to Buy threshold. We have found that in similar urban locations across other boroughs, up to two-thirds of homes are currently purchased through Help to Buy. This presents an opportunity for local first- time buyers to take their first step onto the housing ladder at our High Street Quarter development.”
First completions are due to take place before the end of 2019, together with the delivery of new affordable housing. Commercial units are due to open in 2020, and from then there will be staggered completions of new homes until the entire scheme completes in 2021.