Dean Gardens plans put on hold

All the work of the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood project, including the redesign of Dean Gardens. has been put on hold. The main funder is Transport for London and their loss of income with Covid 19 has meant a complete review of all their Liveable Neighbourhood projects. We will post any updates on this story but it may well be that the whole project gets cancelled.

Information about the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood project is here.

A new film shows how our skyline is changing with ever more tall towers being planned

A new short film, Ealing – The Sky’s the Limit, by the Red Block Rebels gives a guided tour to the extraordinary number of towers built, being built and planned to be built right across the borough – 181 in total so far.

Members of Ealing Matters, which include West Ealing Neighbours, have been working under the Red Block Rebels brand to highlight the major developments which could bring up to 120,000 new residents in to the borough. These developments will change Ealing forever so we think it’s important everyone knows what is happening.

Ealing Matters has published a statement on its website with more information about this new film and how far these developments and the planning process have deviated from the Council’s own Local plan. The Council is now working on a new plan but will it abide by its own rules?

You can also visit the Stop The Towers website for more information on Red Block Rebels and their campaign.

Last chance to comment on plans for next stage of Green Man Lane Estate

A reminder that the developers of the Green Man Lane Estate, A2Dominion and Rydon, have asked for comments on their phase 4 plans by the end of today.

One of the main concerns about their plans is the proposed 15-storey height of some of the new blocks. This is higher than anything currently on the estate but it looks like they have taken the opportunity to match the height of one of the new buildings planned along the Uxbridge Road.

Full details of the phase 4 consultation are here. And the Ealing Today website has a fuller story. A planning application is likley to be submitted this summer.

QPR deal for Warren Farm is off

The West London Sport website has reported that QPR has halted its deal with Ealing Council to use part of Warren Farm for its training facility. The QPR website has a news item in which Ealing Council says it will continue to push ahead with plans for community sports facilities at Warren Farm now that QPR is pursuing an alternative site.

Hanwell Nature has been one of the leading campaigners against the Council’s decision to give QPR a 200 year lease on Warren Farm. Their website has the full story of their efforts.

How Ealing Council planning will work during Covid-19 pandemic

In this emergency we have sick residents, some seriously ill and some dying.  Businesses of all sizes are struggling with no income. Some will go to the wall. Building work on sites small and large is sporadic. In June 2020 many people be on 80% of wages backdated to March. Others will have to wait till July. However this ‘furloughing‘ is only guaranteed to the end of June 2020.

Given all this, is it really sensible or appropriate for Local Authorities (LAs) to be pressing ahead with planning for 10/20/30/40 storey tower blocks? Well the Government thinks it is and have told LAs to crack on with planning during the pandemic.

Ealing Council’s Planning service has announced its process changes in response to the Covid-19 emergency. There has been some criticism about aspects of it. Site visits by Planning Committee members prior to Planning Committee meetings have been abandoned. The April 2020 Planning Committee meeting was cancelled, but the 21 May 2020 meeting will go ahead as a live-streamed one on the Microsoft MS Teams virtual platform. The period for pubic consultation on Planning Applications has been extended from 21 days to 42 days. For those residents staying indoors this extension will make little difference to them, as they will not walk past a lamppost displaying the Planning Notice. The Council seems to be blaming the lack of a new Local Plan on the pandemic. Ealing Council’s 2012 Local Plan is the oldest in London, and is spectacularly out of date.

WEN attended an MS Teams based Ealing Council Planning User Group virtual meeting on 16 April 2020. The ‘Ealing Matters’ network of 60+ residents’ and community groups carried out research amongst its members about the Council’s proposed changes to its planning processes. These research findings can be found at:

https://ealingmatters.org.uk/planning-in-the-time-of-covid-19-ealing-councils-response-to-the-emergency-regulations/

The Planning Application (ref: 184490FUL) to build an 8 storey block of 63 tiny studio flats in Chignell Place, central West Ealing may be on the 21 May 2020 Planning Committee Agenda. We may not discover this until 14 May 2020. (The application was on the agenda of the Council’s Planning Committee meeting in March, but was withdrawn at the last minute).

More on Covid-19 Council planning service changes at:

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/201262/coronavirus_covid_19/2669/changes_to_council_services/15

Eric Leach

Hanwell Hootie goes online – Saturday 9th May

Good news indeed. The Hanwell Hootie which was initially cancelled has found a technological solution and will now be able to put on some of the artists who would have been performing. It will be streamed live on its Facebook page on Saturday 9th May from 4pm.

Donations will be accepted during the event to help pay the artists and cover some of the costs of putting on the festival.

Council’s plans to sell Victoria Hall to hotel chain blocked

The Charity Commission has now blocked Ealing Council’s plans to sell Victoria Hall to Mastcraft, a hotel group. West Ealing Neighbours was one of a number of residents’ groups which contributed funds to pay for legal advice to challenge the Charity Commission’s original decision.

The Charity Commission’s decision carries with it a series of issues that the Council must deal with if it wants to still go ahead with its plans. The full story is on the Ealing Today website.

Latest on plans for tall towers and other planning issues

This is the April edition of Ealing Matters’ newsletter on planning issues.

Greetings from the Ealing Matters working group. We hope that you are keeping safe and well in these extraordinary times. Despite the current health crisis, Ealing Council’s planning juggernaut keeps rumbling on (see below). This is a brief summary of the latest news from around the borough.

STOP THE TOWERS – 174, THE LATEST TALL TOWERS TOTAL

Over 200 Stop the Towers Ealing demonstrators assembled outside Ealing Town Hall prior to an LBE Council Meeting on 25 February 2020. It was captured on video and can be viewed at Exposurebox.com.

Stop the Towers started in June 2019 when local residents were horrified to find that two tower blocks were proposed close to each other and West Ealing Station. One is 25 storeys and the other 26 storeys. Just over one mile north of the station local residents were similarly shocked in October 2019 to discover details of a planning application for a six-tower block on and around the Gurnell Leisure Centre site (although redevelopment rumblings go back to 2015). Since then Ealing Matters and Save Gurnell have worked together to identify, document and create a computer simulation of this explosion of approved and planned tower blocks throughout Ealing. Only Northolt so far is untouched by the outbreak – Acton, Central Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Park Royal, Perivale, Southall and West Ealing are all to be blighted. North Acton and the centre of Southall will perhaps become two of the most tower-dominated suburbs in the UK.

According to the latest (not yet exhaustive) figures from the Save Gurnell/Ealing Matters’ database, the 10+storey tower blocks recently built, being built, within the planning system or developer announced in the London Borough of Ealing number 174. 36 of these are or will be 20+-storeys high. Absolutely staggering.

Ealing Matters is in the process of adding quick reference detail about these developments to the Development Info section of the website, starting with those at the early stages of the planning process. These pages include the location of the development, the number and type of housing units and the amount of affordable housing included in the scheme together with artist’s impressions.

NEW EALING LOCAL PLAN

Analysis of all 33 London boroughs shows that Ealing’s Local Plan is the most out-of-date in London overall. Ealing has failed to monitor delivery of the plan since 2013/14, something that it is required to do annually. It has also failed to bring forward a timetable for making amendments to the plan in the light of existing national and regional (London) policy, which would involve at least two stages of public consultation. All efforts by Ealing Ma3ers and others to discover or even participate in the drafing of a new Local Plan for Ealing have come to nothing. Local residents’ groups last meeting with Ealing’s planning supremos on 9 October 2019 was somewhat acrimonious. Attempts at meetings this year in January and then on 3 March floundered. The latter meeting apparently failed because the Chief Planning Officer said he could not find a venue.

The Government has delayed approval of the draft new London Plan and expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of it. Changes to national planning guidelines are being proposed. All the uncertainty around national and regional planning guidelines, allied to the Council’s pre-occupation with Covid-19 mitigations, will no doubt fuel further Local Plan delays.
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EALING COUNCIL PLANNING COMMITTEE

The Ealing Council Planning Committee meeting scheduled for 18 March 2020 took place as planned despite the current health crisis. A recent email from David Scourfield, Chief Planning Officer, announced that the Planning Committee meeting due to take place on 15 April has been cancelled, but that the 20 May meeting is planned to go ahead ‘through the use of a digital platform’ subject to revised legislation from the Government. This raises questions about community participation.


Below is a round-up of what has been going on in individual areas across the borough.

ACTON

Friary Park redevelopment Built in the 1980s and close to Acton Mainline station, Friary Park is a low-rise residential estate with 225 homes. In November 2019 Ealing Council granted the estate’s owners, social housing providers Catalyst Homes, planning consent to redevelop the site to provide 990 apartments in six towers of up to 24 storeys.

The scheme raised huge local controversy. Assured that they would be rehoused within the new scheme in better homes, Catalyst’s tenants largely supported it, whereas leasehold owners were against, fearing they would be inadequately compensated for the loss of their homes. Nearby residents whose Edwardian and 1930s houses and gardens will be dwarfed by the neighbouring towers were also strongly opposed. They said they did not object to a redevelopment of Friary Park but believed what is planned is a very serious overdevelopment and totally out of context with the area’s suburban character.

The scheme is with the Mayor of London for final approval. Central Acton Neighbourhood Forum (CANF) have been leading the objections. They are lobbying the Mayor to withhold his approval and are demanding explana$ons from the Council about irregularities in their processing of the application, including the absence of the required Environmental Impact Assessment. More on the CANF website.


CENTRAL EALING

Victoria Hall

Friends of the Victoria Hall still await the outcome of the Charity Commission’s independent review. This long running review began on 8 January 2020. The Commission is pondering comments made by Friends of the Victoria Hall and others about the Commission’s Scheme which would allow Ealing Council to erroneously dispose of Victoria and Prince’s Halls. More here.

Later: The Charity Commission has stopped Ealing Council’s plans to sell Victoria Hall to a hotel developer. Full story on Ealing Today site here.


Perceval House redevelopment

Working with its development partner Vistry, the Council is steaming ahead with its plans to redevelop its offices at Perceval House, even though they are less than 40 years old. A recent exhibition of Vistry’s latest thinking shows a very high density scheme including residential blocks whose height they omitted to mention but is at least 26 storeys, or possibly even the 28 stated in their Environmental Impact Assessment application. Whatever the truth, the new blocks will overpower the old Town Hall which is so iconic of Ealing. Vistry has shown little interest in modifying their plans to take on board strong local objec$ons. A planning application is promised shortly. It is impossible to know how objectively Ealing’s planners will be able to assess its merits given the interest the Council has in making sure it goes ahead.

HANWELL

Warren Farm

The first stage of Hanwell Nature’s Warren Farm Judicial Review (JR) took place on 2 April 2020. The locally based advocacy group is challenging the Council’s consent for Queens Park Rangers FC to take over its 61- acre Warren Farm, without undertaking a requisite Environmental Impact Assessment. Warren Farm is one of the few remaining nature sites in the Borough and it is part protected as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Presiding over this first hearing, the Hon Mrs Justice Elizabeth Laing DBE disregarded the Council’s objections and ruled that a full two-day review of the Council’s decision should proceed. No date has yet been announced. See www.hanwellnature.com for news updates.


Olde Hanwell CPZ

If the Council gets its way, the cul-de-sac that is Olde Hanwell will be the last piece in a jigsaw of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in the Hanwell area. Since time immemorial Olde Hanwell residents have been able to park their cars on the pavements along the narrow streets. This arrangement has no doubt created some obstruction for pedestrians, but as the traffic is usually very light, they can generally share the road space happily enough with the occasional slow-moving vehicle. Few residents were aware there was any problem that needed solving.

This was until the Council ran a ‘public consultation’ in 2019 that very few people knew about. The consultation documentation told residents that a CPZ was required because non-residents and commuters were parking in the area. This was despite the fact that its own research showed that on the day of its survey 88% of the vehicles parked in the area were resident-owned.

If the CPZ is introduced pavement parking will be allowed on only 5 out of 29 streets. Extensive double yellow lining will severely reduce the available space – by 256 spaces according to Olde Hanwell Residents Association calculations. With no free spaces adjacent to Olde Hanwell, where will residents now be able to park? A public meeting to discuss residents’ concerns was turned down even before the current restrictions were introduced.

The closing date for comments on the plans was 25 March 2020 – of course afer the restrictions were introduced. Ealing Council has not yet announced whether the date will be extended. Exposurebox has aired the concerns of many local residents at https://exposurebox.com/hanwell-towncentre-cpz/.

SOUTHALL

Save the Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose is an Art Deco building in the centre of Southall with a rich cultural, musical, performance and community-binding history. It opened in 1910 as the Southall Electric Theatre and was Southall’s first cinema. It was the first cinema in the UK to show Bollywood films. For over 35 years now it has been a major African-Caribbean culture and music venue of international repute. It also serves as a cultural centre for Asian and Somali communities. It is the only Southall venue owned and managed by the African-Caribbean Windrush genera$on.

Ealing Council and the Peabody housing association want to demolish the Tudor Rose and replace it with a housing development. A Planning Application is expected soon. More at www.visitsouthall.co.uk/News/ NewsDetails.php?recordID=1101

WEST EALING

Dean Gardens

£1.4 million is being spent to ‘transform’ Dean Gardens which was created in 1910/11 in the centre of West Ealing. Local residents were shocked when 30 mature trees were unceremoniously felled in February 2020. At recent Elthorne and Walpole Ward Forums, as well as at a West Ealing Neighbours public meeting, concerns were expressed about certain aspects of the draft plans. These included the loss of play equipment for toddlers, the removal of the 110-year-old heritage brick and iron railings and an unfenced community growing garden. Improved lighting in the park is being universally welcomed. The gardens are likely to be closed for up to a year from some time in early summer 2020. This project is part of a £9 million TfL/Ealing Council funded project to improve cycling, pedestrian and public transport facili$es in central West Ealing. This project is variously called West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood and Live-West-Ealing.

With the recent temporary exclusion of many school pupils and the enforced closure of many local businesses the potential, imminent closure of Dean Gardens seems clearly inappropriate. Albeit keeping their distance from others, people of all ages in central West Ealing will need the open space for walking, sittng and mum and toddler activities. More at www.livewestealing.org.


With thanks to Eric Leach for compiling the information for this latest issue. Contributions that you think would be of interest to Ealing Matters member groups are welcome.

The Grosvenor looks set to close down permanently

The Ealing Today website has picked up a story about The Grosvenor pub closing down permanently. The pub was rescued in 2014 by the Food and Fuel group (story here). Many of us were convinced the site would be sold to a property developer. However, Food and Fuel transformed it from a rather run down pub in to an attractive and welcoming venue.

In 2016 Food and Fuel was sold to The Restaurant Group (TRG).There were fears a few months ago that the finances were not looking good. Now, TRG is closing all its pubs and its Chiquito restaurant chain with the loss of some 1500 jobs. Corona virus appears to have been the final straw.

The prospect of it being bought by a property developer is once again on the horizon.

Council launches Ealing Together to help respond to the Covid 19 corona virus crisis

‘Ealing Together is a collaboration between local community and voluntary groups, Ealing Council and other public services and concerned residents that want to help.’

Its website offers residents the chance to volunteer their help and to donate to help the work of organisations involved. It also has information for local residents who may be in need of help whether through having been advised to self isolate, who may have corona virus symptoms or are worried by a sudden change in financial circumstances.

We will add further information shortly.