Walsh clocks off
by Noella Pio Kivlehan Tue 25 July 2017, 10:48 am
Brendon Walsh, Hounslow Council's executive director of regeneration, economic development and environment, has left the council after nearly five years.
Walsh was a driving force behind some of the borough's biggest regeneration schemes, including the new Civic Centre – which will open next year – the Heston leisure complex, the Brentford FC community stadium and establishing the influential Heathrow Strategic Planning Group.
He also helped attract bluechip multinations to the Golden Mile – part of the Great West Corridor between Gillette Corner and the Chiswick roundabout on the A4. He leaves the council to set up his own consultancy business, Brendon Walsh Associates.
Councillor Amrit Mann, deputy leader, introduced Walsh at his farewell party at The Conservatory, Chiswick, on 20 July, which was attended by representatives from Heathrow Airport, the Greater London Authority, Brentford Football Club, and neighbouring Slough Borough Council.
Mann said: “Of all the things Brendon has done for Hounslow, we look at [his work on] the Golden Mile – Brendon took it to a new level.”
The Golden Mile runs along the A4 and M4 through Osterley, Brentford to Chiswick and is the first major business district en route from Heathrow Airport through to central London. It has 200 companies employing 25,000 people.
In 2014, Walsh fronted the announcement by the council of plans to re-invigorate, revamp and re-launch the area, with improved infrastructure, local amenities, affordable housing, better parks and schools, improved public transport, and new links to HS2 and Crossrail.
Mann said: “With Brendon gone, it puts me in a difficult position – we want to see the vision [for Hounslow’s regeneration] continue. Usually when people have that vision and they move on, that vision can stall: we don’t want that [to happen]. We want people to have faith in the likes of me to make sure that vision carries on.”
Walsh said he was “happy to acknowledge the very small part I have had in helping Hounslow” and that “development and regeneration of the borough should be taken to the next level.”
Along with regeneration schemes, Walsh took the initiative two years ago in setting up the Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (HSPG), which brought together nine of the 10 local authorities and their communities that would be affected if Heathrow Airport is finally decided upon a third runway.
Last October, the government announced Heathrow was its preferred choice for expansion. In February, it launched the consultation on Draft Airports National Policy Statement, which closed in May with the final National Policy Statement going before parliament in the winter.
Walsh said he hopes to still have a role within HSPG – an organisation he said “was very close to my heart.”.
Speaking at the event, Rob Gray, newly appointed director of community and shake-holder director at Heathrow Airport who took up his post in April, said proposed changes to Heathrow could have massive benefits for the local area and people surrounding the airport.
“Hats off to Brendon for getting all the local authorities together in HSPG… [at Heathrow] we want to improve our engagement with local communities – we want world class community engagement. We know we have a lot of work to do but we are keen to work with all stakeholders in all aspects of the community to strengthen relations.”
Walsh also thanked Toby Fox, managing director of publishwe 3Fox International, for helping bring a voice through the Great West magazine, to all the changes happening in the borough.
“A lot of the success that has flown from the work I have been able to deliver has come on the back of the excellent support I have… to promote [these projects]. [3Fox] has told the story of what we have been trying to achieve.
“Ealing, and now Hounslow have changed tremendously and the development community have come in behind the local authorities as a result of 3Fox leveraging sponsorship and support and encouraging people to see those places as sound investments.”
As for what is to come in his post local-authority life, Walsh added: “I am excited about the future.”
View photos of the event:
Read Great West magazine:
Issue 4: Great West Air