After years of dormancy there are finally signs of life at a derelict Isleworth office block.

John Busch House, at 277 London Road, is familiar to many as not only has it stood vacant and in a parlous state of repair since 2008 but it shares its name with the infamous Busch Corner junction with Twickenham Road.

Anyone who has ever sat in the morning or evening traffic jam at this spot will have had plenty of time to gaze at the sorry brick block and ponder if anything good would ever become of it.

Last week they finally got their answer as workers arrived to begin clearing the interior in preparation for its conversion to 40 one, two and three bedroom flats.

The site in question has a colourful history starting right back in the 1600s when it formed part of the then much large Syon Park estate.

John Busch was apparently the name of a lodge house which stood on an area designated as kitchen garden at a time when the London Road was a simple farm track.

In 1981 planning permission was granted for a three story office block which became the head office for the communications firm Vanco Group Ltd before it was taken over by Reliance Globalcom in 2008 and moved to Great West Plaza, Brentford.

Since then the building has been empty and suffered constant littering, flytipping and vandalism.

Towards the end of last year workers were seen on site appearing to be in the process of renovation, when in fact they were thieves stealing all the metal and it was only a tip-off from neighbours which brought the spree to an end.

Everything from copper wiring to even the building’s lightning conductor, was taken.

Raman Dhingra is project manager for Hillingdon-based The Asha Group which acquired the site shortly after this incident.

He said: “They had done a lot of damage, but luckily not to the main structure of the building, which is actually beautiful.

“We got this place just in time to prevent any further damage and were delighted that the Green School opposite asked to take some of the materials such as doors and panels so that they will be preserved.

“This is our first development in Hounslow but we know this is a prominent location and that lots of people are looking to move into Isleworth so we’re excited for the future,

“I really want to thank Hounslow Council’s planning department for their help and support during this whole process.”

Site clearance has already started at John Busch House in Isleworth.
 

A planning application by the previous owners for a total demolition of the building and its replacement with 65 flats and 59 car parking spaces was rejected by the council in March 2012.

The owners subsequently appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which also refused, leading to the 2,648 sq m site being sold to The Asha Group.

Its own 40 flat scheme, which also retains the current provision of 64 parking spaces, was made easier by last year’s relaxation of the permitted development laws.

Where the previous application had been rejected on grounds of noise, density, lack of amenity space such as parks and playgrounds, scale and failure to enhance Isleworth Riverside Conservation Area, the new prior approval rules meant the council could only assess it on three aspects; flood risk, ground contamination, and traffic.

Although the Environment Agency had expressed concerns about surface flooding in 2012, the site is now categorized as Zone 1 which means the EA did not need to be consulted this time out.

The planning officers also felt there would be no risk of contamination despite the site’s industrial history and according to its report: “(the proposal) is not likely to result in a material increase or a material change in the character of traffic in the vicinity of the site.”

Several Prior Approval applications, designed by the Government to speed up the planning process and make it easier to convert offices to residential, are currently being considered around the borough.

One of them concerns Grove House, the office block opposite West Thames College further down London Road, which developers want to convert into 31 flats.

Heath House which is next door is already being converted into flats.