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Relief as mega tower in Shepherds Bush Green refused

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Image captionImage 1: The Walkabout on Shepherds Bush Green

Residents are relieved after plans to build a 16-storey tower next to Shepherds Bush Green and demolish the historic cinema and former Walkabout pub have been refused by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

The decision was taken by the council last week (27 May) and sends Dorsett Hospitality International – the owner of the new Dorsett Hotel, the Grade II-listed former Pavilion bingo hall – back to the drawing board for the future of the site.

Built in 1910, it was originally Pyke’s Cinematograph Theatre and had a capacity of 900. Later, it became known as the Palladium, but stopped showing films in 1981. It was later sold to the Walkabout pub chain, until it entered administration in 2013 and it was bought by the owners of the Dorsett hotel.

The proposed 16-storey block of 56 serviced apartments, seven flats for sale and a café, ran afoul of the council’s planners because it would have dwarfed the nearby buildings and would be too close to its neighbours at the rear of the property.

The council also cited a range of other problems – including the unjustified demolition of the former cinema, a listed Building of Merit, which would have been razed to make way for the development. The Mayor of London also supported the council’s decision to refuse planning permission.

The news was well-received by residents who had objected to the proposal.

Nicolas Fernley, chair of the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group, said: “The developers said they would create a landmark that signals Shepherds Bush Green as a ‘place’. But there is no need. The existing buildings are already landmark buildings.”

While Tom Ryland, vice-chairman of the Hammersmith Society, said: “We are delighted. It was completely inappropriate to have a tower of that height in the Green. We’re not opposed to the site being re-developed, but it has to be more sensible.”

And local campaigner and journalist Virginia Ironside said: “It’s brilliant news. They should keep the façade of the old Palladium, at the very least.”

The council also rejected the application for the 12,700sqft site next to the Grade II-listed O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on the grounds that it would deprive the Green of an ‘entertainment’ venue.

This concern was echoed by local resident Tom Derbyshire, 41, of The Grampians in Shepherds Bush Road, who said: “The area is renowned for its nightlife and it would be very sad and a total waste of a perfectly good, interesting building such as the Palladium was bulldozed in favour of yet more luxury flats – which we certainly don't need.

“Instead, it should be renovated with entertainment in mind. The building would make a great jazz club and bar, for example, and I’m sure it would be very successful.”