Open CHRAG meeting, September 2013

We had a good Chiswick High Road Action Group (CHRAG) meeting. About 60 people, including lots of traders, reps from Hounslow Council and the odd councillor. Our own impression and subsequent feedback suggests the meeting was good-tempered and informative.

We discussed the situation of traders. There is some talk of making Chiswick into a BID (Business Improvement District) in the future. Simon Johnson from Marmalade Jewellery (Turnham Green Terrace) explained how that might work. Sam Harrison of Sam’s Brasserie talked about his experience with his two premises – the other one is in Balham where he has an excellent Town Centre Manager and he feels supported by the council. He thought Hounslow council should be doing more for businesses, regardless of the BID proposal. Several other businesses also expressed their dissatisfaction with Hounslow council’s treatment of Chiswick businesses, and there was a consensus that this should improve. The traders were pleased to be talking together, and to feel supported by the local community. Mary Macleod‘s recent meeting between councillors and traders was welcomed, and it was noted that this was to continue with further meetings.

Richard Sheldon of CHRAG explained some of the visual threats to the High Road, and underlined that there are Shopfront Policy guidelines. These will be on CHRAG’s new website, and all are encouraged to check these out, and keep a watching brief if they see infringements. CHRAG is monitoring planning applications and trying to encourage the council and traders to follow the guidelines.

Chris Chauncy of CHRAG discussed some of the new planning legislation, which in particular affects change of use. This was close to the hearts of several of the audience who felt that too many shops were being converted into estate agents offices. Again, everyone was encouraged to stay alert to new legislation, to lobby their MP if worried about it, and to alert CHRAG and check the website.

Marie Rabouhans spoke of the perceived threat to Chiswick from the massive development planned for the new Brentford Stadium, and its implications for traffic and infrastructure in Chiswick. All were encouraged to write to their councillors with their views, bearing in mind that Brentford Football Club was encouraging its fans and the council might get the impression that the development is universally supported. Again – details and link for responses on our website.

There was nothing new to report on the “Sainsbury’s site”, aka Blockbusters bloc, and the council confirmed there had been no further applications, or pre-application discussions.

Parking was of great interest. Mark Frost, transport planner at Hounslow, had asked CHRAG for feedback about parking as Hounslow are looking into this. Suggestions include tweaking the hours (eg. starting enforcement later), or offering 30 minute free stop and shop slots. While there was also a lot of support for cycling and bussing to the High Road there was a general agreement that parking, traffic and air pollution were important issues for Chiswick. CHRAG intends to carry out a survey into parking, in order to inform our representations to the council, and Chiswick residents, visitors and traders will be encouraged to provide their responses shortly.

In general, it would be helpful for people to subscribe to the mailing list by clicking here. We will be organising a short questionnaire on parking and supply other useful information from time to time about matters concerning the Chiswick High Road area.

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