It won’t be long before this view changes forever. The former Glaxo site is now known as Greenford Square and is in line for redevelopment. Local residents are being consulted, an opportunity which comes to an end this week.
I attended the public event earlier this year when some of the options being considered for the site were put forward, including housing and a cinema or a supermarket. It does worry me that the suggested plan includes a smart piazza at the canal side because I don’t feel that a glossy makeover will suit the area at all.
One of the attractions of this section of the Grand Union canal is that it is so quiet, a well kept secret. Walkers and cyclists use the canal path because of its natural appearance. A smart urban development will be as out of place here as it would be on Mars. It will also deny local wildlife the green corridor that now exists along that bank of the canal.
I would be happy to see genuinely affordable housing here as long the plans included gardens and allotments for each household. It would be even better if the development involved a mellow, natural planting scheme, such as that pioneered by garden designer Piet Oudolf, which would help it blend in rather than stand out, and unite the wild bank of the canal with maintained gardens.
A cinema in an area that does not at present have one is probably a good idea, it will bring some jobs and visitors who would spend money in local shops. I do not want a supermarket here – there are already too many people driving through the area and while it would bring many more jobs than a cinema it would also mean much more traffic.
The reality is that this development will be across the canal (a road of sorts) from an industrial site, British Bakeries. Unless that changes it won’t matter how smart the new homes are, they will still have a shabby industrial view, something that won’t sell.
It is absolutely vital that Greenford residents take this chance to have their say and insist on a realistic development that we will all benefit from.
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