“Boot them out” – this was the controversial decision eco-villagers were dreading when they gathered to hear their community’s fate.

A meeting of Hounslow Council’s sustainable development committee (SDC) descended into chaos on Wednesday night, when planning chiefs gave developer St George the go-ahead to pave over an eco-village on the former Scottish Widow site at Kew Bridge.

Since eco-protesters scaled a wall to get on to the site last June, they have cleared land, set up a kitchen and tents, run art and music workshops, invited teenagers to help grow herb and vegetable gardens – and proved a hit with the community.

But their hard work was undone by councillors, who were bombarded by cries of disappointment from unhappy eco-protesters and residents opposed to the now-approved development, comprising 164 residential units, a fitness suite and business centre, retail and office space and a cafe or restaurant.

Founding villager Dean Puckett told the committee: “Every time you drive past that bridge you will feel a little bit of pain in your hearts. You could have done something great today.”

Mr Puckett, who has been documenting the eco-village’s growth for more than eight months, was warned Civic Centre security staff would be called to remove him from the building and confiscate the video camera he was using to record events – flouting council guidelines in the process – but he ignored the threats.

As frustrated outbursts continued, committee chairwoman Councillor Sheila O’Reilly called a five-minute recess.

Prior to the councillors’ much-derided decision, the committee heard from the regeneration director for St George, Charmaine Young, who claimed the firm had “worked hard” to address issues raised at an SDC meeting last September, when a decision was deferred.

She said the latest proposal tackled parking and affordable housing concerns – although an assessment from the Greater London Authority stated the “lack of affordable housing is extremely disappointing”.

President of the Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, Peter Hughes, and Strand on the Green resident Brian Sawyer spoke in favour of St George’s plans.

Mr Sawyer praised the scheme for promising to tackle a long lasting “eyesore”, opening up and improving access to the River Thames and pledging to create more than 100 jobs.

He also welcomed the hundreds of thousands of pounds in Section 106 funds – money given to the council as part of the planning agreement – including £48,000 to improve Kew Bridge station.

But Paul Lewis, representing the Strand on the Green Association, blasted St George for “wasting five months” by not addressing objections from six groups, including Brentford Community Council, West London River Group and Kew Gardens, which were voiced at the last meeting.

His comments received rapturous applause.

He said: “If we can’t protect an area in the middle of three conservation zones, what can we protect?

“The proposed building is too big, too ugly, too dense and too damaging.”

Planning bosses admitted the development was not perfect, but stressed to committee members a better planning proposal was unlikely.

Conservation and design officer Maggie Urquhart said: “If I had a way of taking a level off the building then I think it would have benefited.”

Brentford ward councillor Andrew Dakers, who chose to step out of the meeting when the vote took place, said on balance he would recommend approving the scheme with strict conditions – he feared the council would lose a costly subsequent appeal.

He described the eco-villagers as “well respected members of the community”, adding: “If approved I hope St George will stand by their word, and once building contractors are agreed provide a few weeks notice for the eco-village to be dismantled.”

Councillor for Isleworth Phil Andrews abstained from voting, claiming he had not been convinced by St George’s scheme.

Campaigners to fight plans

The eight-month saga of the Kew Bridge eco village may yet continue.

After Wednesday’s council meeting village residents and community members were resolute in their desires to search for a way to overturn the planning consent given to developer St George.

Dean Puckett, a 28-year-old eco villager, said: “One way or another St George will give us some sort of time frame of when to leave, and we will all re-group and have a think about how to respond to that.

“The eco-village and what we are doing on the site is an idea – and you cannot kill an idea.

“The things we are doing will continue.

“I am sad for the residents and sorry for the people who will have to live under the shadow of that monstrosity.”

Fellow villager Cindy Southall, 20, said: “It’s very sad.

“Everyone has got their own thoughts, but I think I would like to make a bit of a drama to show why they should be blocking the plan.”

Meanwhile, Strand on the Green Association member Paul Lewis pledged to explore whether Mayor of London Boris Johnson could halt the development.

St George declined to comment.

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