Central London has the Shard, the gherkin and the walkie talkie, but could the 'spinal cord' be the newest addition to Hounslow's skyline.

The 27-storey tower at the heart of plans to regenerate Hounslow town centre was finally unveiled by developers on Friday (September 12).

The gentle curve of the line of balconies jutting out from the high-rise apartment block bears a passing resemblance to a human backbone.

Barratt Developments has previously refused to release an artist's impression of what it describes as an 'iconic' landmark at the centre of proposals for a cinema, cafes and restaurants and about 525 homes at the car park site opposite ASDA.

But the public got their first view at an exhibition of the plans, which also include a new town square, 41 per cent 'affordable housing' and a 510 space underground car park, in the Treaty Centre on Friday and Saturday.

Barratt Developments was selected in November last year as the preferred developer for the 5.3 acre site just off the High Street, known as the High Street Quarter.

It plans to submit a formal planning application to Hounslow Council next spring, following a second round of public consultation.

An artist's impression of how the entrance to the cinema would look in the High Street Quarter development planned for Hounslow town centre
 

When getwestlondon spoke to members of the public at Friday's exhibition, the majority praised the proposals and said they were keen to see any progress at the site, which has long been earmarked for regeneration.

However, the tower divided opinion, with some sharing the developer's view it was an attractive landmark but others feeling it was too tall for the neighbourhood.

Gurpreet Dhillon, 36, of Hounslow, said: "It will be good to see that site finally being regenerated and to have a cinema in Hounslow. The only thing I don't like is there are too many food outlets. Maybe there could be more shops instead."

Deepak Sharma, a security consultant, who also lives in Hounslow, described the proposals as 'fantastic'.

"I think something like this is needed to boost Hounslow, which has been in decline for the last 10 years," he added.

Shella Payne, a retired nurse, also of Hounslow, said: "In the past there have been so many projects planned for Hounslow, which have come to nothing. I just hope they go through with this. The only thing I'm not sure about is the tower. I don't like tall buildings and I'm worried it would be an eyesore."

Tony McKendry, a retired project manager for the British Standards Industry, was less than impressed with what he dubbed the 'Hounslow Shard'.

"The proposals appear to be quite a long way what's in the BDP master plan," he said.

"They seem to have set out not to have anything that's already in the Treaty Centre, so there are no big stores but lots of cafes and restaurants.

"There's no proper disabled access, no children's play space, no decent interface with the High Street and I don't know if there will be enough parking spaces for the 2,000-seater 10 screen cinema."

It is understood that as well as acting as a landmark building, a tower is needed to help fund the cost of the underground car park for use by residents and visitors.

* A public meeting about the proposals will take place at Hounslow Youth Centre, off Kingsley Road, Hounslow, tomorrow (Tuesday, September 16) at 7.30pm.

* You can see the plans for yourself at www.hounslowhighstreetquarter.com