A developer has been warned not to “exploit the town of Brentford” when it decides the future of a unique piece of waterway heritage.

For years a question mark has hung over a Commercial Road warehouse that extends over the Grand Union Canal – and a charity is now calling on residents to help prevent its demolition.

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), which claims the building is “the only fully covered transhipment wet-dock in London”, is gathering “imaginative ideas” on how it can be retained as part of Brentford’s regeneration programme to hand over to developer ISIS.

Since the summer there have been ongoing discussions between the developer, its associates, members of the community and organisations, including the IWA, and a workshop was held last month to outline ideas.

An IWA spokesman said: “Although there was a significant body of opinion in favour of retaining the overhang warehouses in any redevelopment scheme some doubters remain.

“There is no doubt that firm, and possibly from outside the box, proposals for their use would strengthen the case for retention.”

Current IWA proposals include a canoe club and training centre but the charity wants to hear suggestions from a wider audience.

Ward councillor Andrew Dakers proposed looking at “green growth industries” or, as a temporary measure, dividing the warehouse and other buildings targeted for development into smaller spaces for start-up businesses over the next three years.

He commended ISIS for launching an in-depth study into Brentford’s economy but stressed the firm must continue with the investigation in order to reveal new industrial uses for the whole site and warehouses.

Coun Dakers said: “This may include restoration of previous uses such as steel supplies and works.

“This would support the development of the traditional boat building and maintenance yards of Brentford and Isleworth.

“Throughout this process it must be remembered that ISIS purchased the land at existing – light industrial – use value.

“While ISIS should make a fair return on any investment, this must not exploit the town of Brentford, and should leave us with the diverse and resilient economy that we had when it and British Waterways first started speculative projects in the area.”

If you have an idea for the IWA, email rogersquires@btinternet.com or johnsashley@btinternet.com.

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