Work on the Blenheim Centre ground to a halt last week after the developer was axed by fed-up council bosses. In this week's Chronicle, reporter Daniel Lyons investigates the fallout from the shock decision.

The announcement last Wednesday came like a bolt out of the blue.

"I suppose it's either very brave or very stupid," admitted council leader Peter Thompson, as he confirmed the council was severing ties with the developers of the Blenheim Centre.

The final decision to dump Blenheim Norwest was made a full week earlier during a private discussion between senior councillors.

The exact details of the meeting are being kept secret but the move had been a long time coming, according to Mr Thompson.

He said the council's executive had become increasingly frustrated at Blenheim Norwest's slow progress and the 'disappointing' plans for Phase 2 of the project.

The town's skyline would have been dominated by the £165million scheme, which included 18-storey and 11-storey tower blocks, a canopied walkway, a multi-screen cinema and 32 new shops.

The decision to walk away was made after Blenheim failed to submit plans before the expiry of the development agreement in September.

Mr Thompson told the Chronicle: "Through the whole process we felt we'd inherited the previous lot's approach which hadn't been terribly joined up or holistic.

"This was a chance to do a big development which would benefit the whole town centre."

As we went to press Blenheim Norwest still refused to comment, while rival politicians seemed to be pulling their punches.

In a statement Ann Keen MP said the delay was 'disappointing', but added: "Hounslow needs a new town and the regeneration process has to be the very best that can be delivered for my constituents in Hounslow."

Labour group leader and Hounslow West councillor Jagdish Sharma also spoke of his 'disappointment' but said he recognised the difficulties faced by his rivals.

However business leaders in Hounslow have been left shocked at the decision.

Robin Arbenz, manager of the Treaty Centre in Hounslow High Street, said: "My company sees the Blenheim Centre as very positive development for Hounslow and for the Treaty Centre.

"Anything that improves Hounslow as a shopping destination has to be for the benefit of everyone.

"My understanding of the initial concept for Phase 2 were very positive."

The decision will also mean more uncertainty for residents of Holloway Street, whose homes have for a decade been blighted by plans to develop the site.

Resident Kate Smith, 71, told the Chronicle she thinks Hounslow Council should now provide funds to allow them to carry out works on their properties.

"We're in limbo again, it could be another 19 years before something happens," she added. "We are being treated like dirt."

But Mr Thompson said he would meet this week with residents to discuss their concerns and insisted they would be a priority under any new scheme.

He also gave his backing to proposals for a named war memorial in Hounslow and even said the project could begin before the development.

The council has now vowed to carry out a major public consultation, draw up a masterplan encompassing all of Hounslow town centre and invited fresh bids.

But it is clear that Hounslow town centre will not see any more building work for several years.