Council approves plans to demolish Woolworth’s and its art-deco facade in West Ealing

At tonight’s Council planning committee meeting (Wednesday 20th February) A2Dominion’s proposal to demolish the old Woolworth’s building with its art-deco facade was approved.

There were over 300 objections to A2Dominion’s proposal.  However, by the rules of the planning committee only one objector from the public  is allowed to speak at the meeting – and I assume only one speaker in favour.  Speakers are given three minutes to make their case. This is the argument I put forward:

‘Good evening councillors. I am David Highton chair of West Ealing Neighbours a residents group for the area.  I would like to make just three points – loss of art deco façade, its height and its design.

1.Loss of iconic art-deco façade

I am sorry you were not able to see the façade of this building when you visited the site on Saturday. However, I hope you will all have been able to see a photo of it as it looked before it was covered by scaffolding.

This art-deco façade on what was once a Woolworth’s store is the most recognisable architectural feature of West Ealing. It is much loved by many local residents, so much so that 1172 signed a petition to save it. I have a copy of it here. Most signatories live within the borough and many live in West Ealing.

Whilst the façade may not have been well looked after, it has not been irreparably damaged by neglect. West Ealing Neighbours commissioned an independent expert, Stand Consulting Engineers, to carry out a survey of the physical state of the façade. Their report concluded ‘ our view is that the damage to the cladding and structure (which is the façade) can be addressed by standard conservation-based repairs. We did not see any signs of structural issues to justify the demolition of the building’. I should at this point thank A2Dominion for allowing our expert to visit the site.

2 Height

Each new developer in West Ealing from the hotel opposite to the old BHS site next door and now A2Domnion have proposed to build higher than the last This time it’s 11 storeys at the front on the Broadway and 15-storeys at the back. It’s too tall, it’s out of keeping with the existing nearby buildings such as the hotel and the residential blocks along the main road.

3.Design

The design of the proposed building recognises the importance of its art deco history and tries to capture some of its features. Why?  There’s no need.  The architects can keep the original and incorporate it into a new design.

In conclusion, A2Dominion understands the importance of design and context. Just a couple of hundred yards away the building it originally proposed for the old undertaker’s site on the corner of the Uxbridge Rd and Shirley Gardens was completely out of keeping and rejected by the then planning committee. They came back with a much more sympathetic design both in style and height. I think they can do exactly the same again if the committee says this proposal just isn’t quite right yet. Have another think about it and come back with a revised design.’

Four of (I think) 12 councillors voted against the proposal, so it was approved. A2Dominion now have three years to make a start on this work.

Decision on Woolworth’s site in West Ealing due on Weds 20th February

It’s been a long wait but the Council’s planing committee is soon due to decide on A2Dominion’s controversial application to demolish the old Woolworths building to build a block 120 flats up to 15-storeys high.  The date for the committee meeting is Wednesday 20th February.  WEN was one of some 300 groups and residents who objected to A2Dominion’s plans.  Click here for more information  about this.

Enjoy some great live music in Ealing this month

Friday 8th February at Cafe Zee Ealing Broadway – Ramon Goose and his band. Tickets £10. Start 7.30pm

Friday 15th February at the Brentham Club, Meadvale Road W5 1NP

Louise Marshall and The Brethren. Tickets £20. Start 8pm

Lots more information about the bands and how to book tickets here

Yet another bank to close in West Ealing. Santander will close in May

One by one the banks are closing in West Ealing.  A few months ago the NatWest closed and now Santander is closing on 9th May as one of 140 branches the Spanish owned bank is shutting in response to the changes in how many of us bank.  That leaves Barclays and Nationwide as the two main banks/building societies left in West Ealing.  Not good news for those who  need to see someone or have to bank actual cash.

Public consultation on plans to redevelop Gurnell leisure centre site

The Council has is consulting on major plans to redevelop the Gurnell leisure centre site. These plans include:

About 600 new homes with 20% affordable but no social housing

Buildings up to 17 storeys high

A 10-lane 50 metre pool, BMX track and skate park and a range of related leisure facilities

The development with be funded through the commercial residential housing.

The next public consultations are on:

  • Wednesday 6th February 2019, from 19:00 –20:30 at Gurnell Grove Community Centre, W13 0AR

A follow-up drop in event will be held on:

  • Saturday 9th February 2019, from 10:00-13:00 at Gurnell Leisure Centre, Ruislip Road East, W13 0AL

These events are open to everyone; however, space is limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis.

More information about this can be found on two websites – http://www.futureofgurnell.co.uk/  and https://www.ealing.gov.uk/gurnell

 

 

West Ealing Business Improvement District looking for a new manager

Following their successful ballot, West Ealing Business Improvement District (BID) have advertised for a new manager.

The full page advert in the Ealing Gazette ( 11th January) gives a very detailed job description and person specification for this post. With a salary of £40-45,000 let’s hope it attracts some first class candidates who can help West Ealing develop a resilient and attractive high street which mixes retail and community activities as proposed in a number of recent reports on the future of high streets such as The High Street Report by John Timpson. .

Crossrail: Up to 3 years late and £2.5 billion over budget

The true scale of the potential problems with Crossrail are laid bare in an article on the New Civil Engineer website.  It’s long and detailed but well worth a read.

The new Chief Executive Mark Wild gave a bleak review of the current situation to a recent London Assembly meeting. It seems the contracts for new stations at West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Mail Line have yet to be placed.

The key points are:

  • Three years’ work likely with project now running £2.5bn over budget
  • Station construction revealed as critical path activity yet not one central station ready
  • One or two central London stations may be “omitted” for opening
  • Up to 15 month’s dynamic testing of trains and signalling yet to begin in earnest
  • On-board train control software unable to work with Heathrow spur

This comes out barely a few weeks after a Network Rail public meeting at Ealing Town Hall where we were told Crossrail/Elizabeth Line would be fully open by the end of this year!

Ever wanted to work in a library? West Ealing library may need you soon.

There’s a story on the Ealing Today website about a Council proposal for seven of the borough’s 13 libraries to be run by the community with no paid staff as part of the next round of budget cuts. One of these libraries would be West Ealing’s library in Melbourne Avenue. Other councils are successfully using volunteers to run libraries. It’s increasingly clear that volunteers will have a key role to play in helping deliver some local services.

This and a range of other cuts to children’s services and senior management at the Council will come up for discussion at next week’s cabinet meeting.

 

Local democracy under threat from plans to halt ward forums

It’s probably fair to say many residents have never heard of ward forums let alone been to one. However, these two public meetings a year with each ward’s three councillors are some of the few chances residents have to raise questions and concerns with their elected representatives. Ealing Council appears to be planning to scrap these meetings as part of a future round of cuts.

As well as reducing local democracy, the plans are also to take away the annual allocation of about £40,000 to each ward which it has been able to spend on local priorities and projects. So, for example, in the Walpole ward the forum has helped fund WEN’s annual SoundBite Festival and Christmas Fair, OPEN Ealing, the redesign of the pigeon-attracting corner near Sainsbury’s, improved lighting, traffic calming measures, new street signs and much, much more.

If this plan goes through it will mean an even greater democratic gap between residents and councillors and the likelihood that small community projects and events will no longer happen. Both of these are bad for the local community and we will all be the poorer as a result.

If you are concerned about this then the Ealing Liberal Democrats has set up a petition to save ward forums. It needs 1500 signatures to get on the Council’s agenda for discussion.  Your name and address will be included on the petition.

West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter plan reaches crowdfunding target

With a few days to spare the plan for the West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter is up and running thanks to pledges from 169 people and organisations reaching the target of £34,021. The West London Islamic Centre in Singapore Road made the final contribution to reach the target. Congratulations to everyone involved in helping this idea get off the ground.

This now gives the go-ahead for OPEN Ealing and the Ealing Centre for Independent Living to ‘ reopen a closed shop in West Ealing and create an amazing diverse retail and artistic space offering a range of community engagement art activities accessible to all – promoting inclusion, mental and physical wellbeing and independent living within the area. It will be a place where we can meet old friends, make new ones & express ourselves.

We’ll be able to learn about the area’s diverse culture via exhibitions, classes and events curated by the community for the community. The front will be a retail unit selling affordable mobility equipment, refurbished on site by our team of apprentices under the guidance of a qualified mobility engineer. The shop will be the first of its kind in the area.’

Watch this space as further developments are under discussion for the West Ealing Community Cultural Quarter.