Monday 28 March 2022
This was the first of 2 days of site visits. The inspector carries out an unaccompanied site visit, which our inspector did in February, before the start of the inquiry, and an accompanied site visit during the planning inquiry, before the report is written.
The inspector cannot hear representations or discussions about the case during the site visit, but it is permissible to point out particular aspects of the area to the inspector.
Representatives of the four parties taking part in the inquiry were present: the applicant (Berkeley Homes) and Hounslow Council supporting the planning applications, and Historic England and OWGRA objecting to the proposals.
The site visit took in the all-important views from the Thames tow path and Kew Gardens. We set off at 13.30 from Richmond station, walked down to the Thames tow path and along the river, past Syon House and Syon Park, stopping to look at the views across the river, to assess the impact of the proposed developments on the local views. The inspector was shown printed photographs by the applicant and OWGRA that had previously been submitted to the inquiry. The applicant’s views suggested that not much of the developments would be seen, while Historic England’s and OWGRA’s views (prepared by our expert witness, Mike Spence) suggested that the towers would be quite visible from various important viewpoints along that route, including the historic view depicted in the Canaletto painting of 1749.
We then entered Kew Gardens at the Brentford Gate and walked up to the view point where the Syon and Cedar Vistas meet opposite Syon House to consider the potential impact of the proposed developments on this all-important historic view which is described as the finest panorama in Kew – and depicts Capability' Brown's famous Arcadian Thames.
We then walked through part of Kew Gardens and the walk ended at the Palm House at about 16.00. We clocked about 10 kilometers. We were very lucky with lovely warm spring sunshine for the walk, and we saw the daffodils and blossom at their very best in Kew Gardens.