Former Glaxo site, seen from Oldfield Lane North

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.

Images and text ©Albertina McNeill 2012. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. Do not add any of these images to Pinterest or similar sites as this will be regarded as a violation of copyright.

This entry was published on May 21, 2012 at 11:06 am. It’s filed under Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Former Glaxo site, seen from Oldfield Lane North

  1. Don’t you think a smart area would enhance Greenford’s prospects, just as the new developments in Brentford must be doing?

    • It depends on what you mean by smart. What the project consultation manager suggested was a “smart piazza” which sounds terrific until you take a close look at the surrounding area. Smart could mean stylish and subtle or it could mean the sort of mall we’ve got at Westway Cross, the sort of thing that gets grubby very quickly. I’m getting tired of the constant attempts to hype up new builds as “luxury” developments. Look at the absurdly named Luminoscity by West Ealing station, towering over little Victorian artisan terraces. The only thing that it blends in with is the branch of Waitrose next to it! I’m always astonished at the amount of litter around it. I’m hoping for something that mellows and blends in with what has become a natural riverbank, enhancing it. If you mouse over the text you’ll see two more photographs. I’m not against new development, I just want those responsible for it to put it into context. If we get a cinema or a supermarket we may also get the prefab look that goes with such things these days which will date and look shabby very soon. Apart from that I don’t see anyone sitting down to a drink at this piazza with its charming view of flour silos when they could walk 100 metres to the Black Horse and look at narrowboats!

  2. Often ‘smart piazzas’ and the like results in pushing up house prices beyond the pockets of local residents, who get displaced over time by more prosperous, higher earning types. If this is the kind of development that we value, a kind of economic cleansing….

    • I see your point, what about those who grew up here and want to live near their families? I am also concerned that this development will be seen as “separate” from the surrounding area which is a little run down, although I have been assured that efforts will be made to blend it in and encourage people to walk through it. What worries me in part is that this development will fail because it will promise more than it can deliver – Greenford ain’t Venice! I don’t see it succeeding if they try attracting that kind of buyer. It will be close to the HS2 route and next to industrial units with lots of huge trucks going past. It’s just across the canal from a “weathered” industrial bakery. Prospective buyers would have to be a bit slow to miss all this so what if these properties fail to sell? I don’t want a situation where new residents just drive in and out of their small new community, that already happens too often. There are so many issues and I’m very worried that local residents are not taking up opportunities to get involved. They leave it all to an ineffectual residents’ association and then complain at the outcome.

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