Hounslow town centre masterplan 2013
The Hounslow Town Centre Masterplan places the Bath Road Car Park site within the ‘Lampton Neighbourhood’, with a vision specifying that the ‘western end of the town centre is largely commercial in nature, with of ces and hotels being the dominant land uses. Building on this, the Lampton Neighbourhood will become a commercial-led mixed use zone. It will have a strong civic and leisure role anchored by the new public events space, and evening economy uses, including eating and drinking, to complement the family oriented High Street offer.’
The Hounslow Town Centre Masterplan also contains ‘land use concepts’ for development sites, with the Bath Road Car Park Site identified as suitable for ‘a new civic offer’ with ‘a new landmark building at the corner of Bath Road / Lampton Road (on the Bath Road car park opportunity site) aiding legibility and move- ment between Hounslow Central station and the town centre.’
The Hounslow Town Centre Masterplan contains a number of ‘development principles’ for the Bath Road Car Park site. These principles should be used to inform the design of a high quality civic facility on the site, thus ensuring that new development works with both Hounslow town centre’s existing and emerging character.
The public and service accessing to a new Civic Centre at Bath Road must not compromise the existing public highway and the setting of Bulstrode Road. Details of the servicing process, vehicle tracking, and frequency of deliveries must therefore be clarified early in the design development process.
The bus halt to the south of the Bath Road site is used as a place for drivers to prepare for their route. It is not a bus stop for public use, but is an important part of Hounslow town centre’s bus infrastructure. The bus halt must be either retained or relocated to a position acceptable to Transport for London and the bus operators. This will be a vital part of the development process.
The Bath Road Car Park site is within an Archaeological Priority Area as designated within the LB Hounslow UDP 2003. Archaeological remains constitute important evidence of Hounslow’s past and are a nite and fragile resource very vulnerable to modern development and land use. As the Council considers that the archaeology of the Borough is an important asset, with its preservation a legitimate objective against which the needs of development must be carefully balanced and assessed, appropriate archeological studies must be undertaken prior to development of the site.
Urban design principles
CONTRIBUTION TO HOUNSLOW HIGH STREET
The Bath Road Car Park site is a key town centre site. It is visible as the western end of the east/ west axis of Hounslow High Street; it can read as a ‘gateway’ site when entering Hounslow town centre from the west; and is easily accessible to pedestrians walking into Hounslow town centre from Hounslow railway station, Hounslow Central London Underground, and a number of bus routes.
A new Civic Centre at this location therefore has the potential to generate activity and positively in uence the entire western portion of the town centre. The programme of a new Civic Centre offers a number of opportunities including:
- Signalling the status and function of a new Civic Centre through the massing, materiality and elevational treatment of the building – this might include revealing some of the internal functions of the building to the public realm through carefully considered elevations whilst providing quality workspaces.
- Ensuring the publicly accessible ground oor of the building works coherently with the public realm and pedestrian ows of Hounslow High Street, Bath Road and Lampton Road – this should be a building that members of the public feel confident approaching, accessing and using.
The size and positon of the Bath Road Car Park site means that a new Civic Centre will be required to both:
- Work with existing buildings to the west and north of the site at the Gospel Hall and 2-4 Lampton Road, avoiding over-bearing or blank elevations
- Create a new street frontage that successfully addresses the corner of the site onto Bath Road and contributes to views of the site from Hounslow High Street and Lampton Road
The shape of the Bath Road Car Park site suggests an opportunity to design a new Civic Centre with a distinctive front elevation that follows the corner of the site. This could ensure the site area is ef ciently used, and presents a clearly legible ‘face’ to Hounslow town centre. A curved elevation would also be able to generate a strong building line with the potential to ‘bridge’ the different characters found to the north and west of the Bath Road Car Park site.
If possible the internal functions of a new Civic Centre should inform the front ‘corner’ elevation, signalling the role and function of the building. The south-eastern orientation of this elevation is likely to require the inclusion of shading devices, and these should be integral to the design and status of the new building.
The position, status and function of a new Civic Centre building on the Bath Road Car Park site necessitate the inclusion of active frontages facing onto Bath Road and Lampton Road. A new Civic Centre will be required to facilitate public access to numerous areas of the building, which will require the provision of a public reception space, waiting areas, small meeting rooms and refreshment facilities.
These areas will be well used and have the potential to activate both the ground oor of the building and the public realm in front of the building. The frontage of a new Civic Centre should seek to reveal this activity where possible, whilst seizing the opportunities for contrast that more private meeting or waiting spaces, or a library, may present. The design concept for a new Civic Centre should acknowledge that an enjoyable and coherent public experience is as important for the building as the provision of a high-quality, exible working environment.
A new Civic Centre should be of a scale that works with the character of its surrounds, creates suf cient space for its internal programme, and provides a civic focus for Hounslow town centre. The building should be visible within the townscape of Hounslow town centre, whilst avoiding any over-bearing of neighbouring buildings. The varying character around the Bath Road Car Park site suggests that a new Civic Centre building could occupy 5-8 storeys. There is the potential for taller elements to act as ‘visual markers’ for a new Civic Centre.
The change in building scale that occurs beyond the site’s western boundary at the Gospel Hall will require the western elevation of a new Civic Centre to skilfully manage the transition. This could be achieved by a step back from the boundary or through a change in massing. The elevational treatment at this juncture should be carefully considered to mitigate any impact on the buildings to the west, and to ensure that important views into the town centre from the west are successfully terminated.
The scale of the buildings surrounding the Bath Road Car Park site changes, re ecting its position at the western edge of Hounslow town centre. The buildings to the north-east and south-east of the site on Lampton Road and the corner of Bath Road/ Hounslow High Street are predominantly 4 storeys with some inhabited roof spaces and rooftop plant. The Hounslow Centre on the corner of Lampton Road and Hounslow High Street features 8 storeys of commercial accommodation on top of a ground oor plinth, and frames the junction of Lampton Road/ Bath Road/ Hounslow High Street with the historic cupola of Neals Corner. This scale of building creates a sense of enclosure at street level and an urban character be tting a Metropolitan Town Centre.
The area directly to the north and west of the Bath Road Car Park site is of a smaller scale and more residential in character, albeit with some homes now in commercial use. Buildings are predominantly 2-4 storeys and of brick construction with a mixture of pitched and parapet roofs. A number of the buildings on the southern side of Bath Road feature detailed facades with decorative cornices, pilasters and corbals. The Gospel Hall directly adjacent to the Bath Road Car Park site is an attractive single-storey brick early 20th century building with a pitched roof.
The site area to the north of the Bath Road Car Park site connecting to Bulstrode Road should be retained as servicing space and access. Suf cient room for vehicular movements, cycle storage and refuse facilities should be provided at this location, with the mass of the building fronting onto Bath Road. The relationship between a new Civic Centre and Whitelocke House should be considered to prevent the new Civic Centre prejudicing any redevelopment of Whitelocke House. It may therefore be prudent to include a controlled pedestrian access at this point, allowing staff access from Lampton Road. The impact of a new Civic Centre on residential amenity at Bulstrode Road should be assessed with daylight/ sunlight and shadow tracking studies.
There may be an opportunity for taller elements at a new Civic Centre set back at roof level to provide visual interest. These could potentially accomodate public uses and lend a unique character to the Hounslow town centre skyline. These elements could play a useful role in ensuring the site is visible from Hounslow High Street, Lampton Road and Hounslow Central London Underground and railway stations, guiding pedestrian movement along Lampton Road. It is important that all rooftop plant is considered early in the design process, becoming an integral part of the building design.
Visual markers that show how a new Civic centre building works could also include external/ revealed circulation cores, thermal chimneys or ventilation ues, or shading devices on the front elevation. There may also be opportunities to express distinctive aspects of the programme such as the committee chamber or public library in the massing of the building whilst still retaining appropriate levels of privacy.
It is important that a new Civic Centre on the Bath Road Car Park site is easily accessible to pedestrians. The Bath Road Car Park site is well served by public transport, and its location within Hounslow town centre suggests that many visitors will travel on foot. Public entrances, reception areas and circulation spaces should be clearly legible to visitors, informing the design of elevations and the public realm.
It is likely that the section of Bath Road in front of the new Civic Centre will be subject to heavy pedestrian footfall and informal crossing. There is an existing ‘pelican’ crossing to the south towards the bus halt and public WC. However, this is likely to be insuf cient and consideration should be given to additional crossings or a shared surface that prioritises pedestrians and works with the ground oor plan of a new Civic Centre.
The triangular portion of land to the east of the Bath Road Car Park site is currently in a seperate ownership. However, it does suggest an opportunity for an area of designed public realm that announces the Civic Centre from Lampton Road, enhances the pedestrian experience and manages the gap with Whiteleaf House. The inclusion of this area within the development site should be explored.
Service access to the site should be from Bulstrode Road to the north. Opportunities for vehicular access to the basement car park to the west of the site from Bath Road should be explored, whilst taking care to avoid undue loss of amenity at the Gospel Hall.