Minister Gives All Clear for Clem Attlee Estate Tower

Says 20-storey building is one of 'outstanding design quality'

Visualisation of new building (left) and the block on the site demolished in 2017 (right)
Visualisation of new building (left) and the block on the site demolished in 2017 (right)

A Fulham tower block has been approved by the government after locals complained it was too big, with one saying it was a better fit for Manhattan. Housing minister Stuart Andrew has approved plans for a 20-storey tower that will create over 130 new flats on the Clement Attlee Estate.

The decision has been made on behalf of the Secretary of State after the plans were called in by Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands in June 2021, arguing that the building, which is to be called Edith Summerskill House, was too big. The development had been given planning permission by Hammersmith and Fulham Council in October 2020 and approved by the Mayor of London.

A letter by the Minister for Housing said, “The proposal would deliver a building of outstanding design quality and excellent living conditions for prospective residents which together are afforded significant weight.”

Councillors previously said the delay was resulting in huge costs to the local authority and left many people living in urgent need of permanent homes, with some forced to sleep on their sofas for years. The council received many letters from locals objecting to the plans amid fears it would overlook other properties and reduce exposure to sunlight.

A resident living very close to the site wrote on the planning portal, “While I fully support the ambition to create affordable housing in the area, I cannot in any way agree with the proposed solution which appears more in keeping with a new development in Manhattan, New York, than the charming borough of Fulham we all know and love.

“As someone who lives within 50m of the site, I feel unequivocally that having a building that will dominate the skyline in such a manner will be to the detriment, not only of those who will live in its gargantuan shadow, but to the charm and reputation of Fulham… We are also a newlywed couple that soon hopes to start a family and living directly adjacent to the constant noise and disruption of this oversized project will cause enormous distress to both us and any young child we hope to bring into this world.”

Summerskill House Delay Worsened Housing Crisis Says Councillor
Visualisation of building looking along North End Road

Another resident said: “I am directly affected by the tower as it will overlook my garden. I understand that London needs flats for people to live in, but a duplication of the footprint and building 20m higher than the old tower is unacceptable to me.

“This will have negative impact on the neighbourhood when it comes to sunlight reduction, overshadowing and freezing temperatures, wind tunnel effect, excessive people concentration and privacy. The area is already suffering from a high density and not enough green space for physical and mental wellness.”

Despite local concerns, the housing minister’s letter said, “The high quality of the design would mean that the building would act as a beacon, marking the southern entrance to the estate, in a way that would enhance the townscape, and the character and appearance of the area.”

The letter also said the privacy of existing residents would not be significantly reduced by the new building and there would be no difficulties caused by an increase in footfall in the area. It said the levels of daylight and sunlight reaching some nearby homes and gardens would be reduced but this would be “well within reasonable bounds”.

Council leader Stephen Cowan said, “We welcome the decision by the government to approve our plan to build 133 genuinely affordable new homes for local people and that it has conceded ‘in relation to affordable housing all parties agree that there is a significant shortfall against what are pressing needs.’ We have consulted extensively and will now crack on and build the much needed homes for our residents.”

Hannah Neary - Local Democracy Reporter

July 6, 2022