Last night’s West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) monthly committee meeting was almost completely devoted to Ealing’s Local Development Framework Public Consultation. exercise.
Public Consultation Document Set ‘Grows’ to 308 Pages
On 8th September when I spent two hours getting hold of the LDF papers, one of the documents – ‘Background Papers 5: Community Consultation & Evidence Base Audit Trail’ – was 15 pages long. Last night David Highton, WEN’s Chair put on the table a document with exactly the same cover but this document was 91 pages long! This strongly suggests to me that four days into the formal Public Consultation period (starting 4th September) the full LDF document set was not actually available.
What it also means that the LDF is not as I first counted up on 9th September 232 pages long but is indeed 308 pages long.
The substantially ‘new’ 91 page document attempts to describe earlier Ealing LDF proposals; resident LDF responses; and Ealing Council’s reasoning and evidence for current LDF ‘thinking’.
I spent a couple of hours this morning attempting to read and assimilate the contents of this document. It really is impenetrable. It alludes to historical resident feedback evidence which is not made available and some of which is questionable.
In some sections under ‘Related Issues and Options’ there are SIXTEEN different document references to consult.
However a 19 line reference to Green Man Lane Estate on page 43 took my breath away. This entry doesn’t tell us that this is up to 10 acres of public land which the Council has decided to sell off to a development consortium. It does tell us that it’s going to be housing only and that all the West Ealing residents’ feedback is this is what they want.
WEN has publicly campaigned for two years for this land to be re-used to benefit the whole West Ealing centre community. We have endlessly proposed a mixed use development; involving the extension/relocation/rebuild of St John’s Primary School; and incorporating healthcare, law and order and a variety of social and community facilities. We have urged the positive involvement of the Islamic centre, the residents and traders in West Ealing; the grasping of the opportunity to re-purpose the roads on the northern border to eliminate regular road rage; and to constructively involving with Felix, Alexandria, Endsleigh and Eccleston Road residents. None of this gets a mention.
However, the most brazen statement reads:
‘This acknowledges consultation feedback that higher density development is appropriate in accessible, edge of town centre locations and the development industy’s identification of need for site-specific flexibility to respond to changing viability and market demand’.
I cannot imagine any resident mouthing the words ‘…higher density development is appropriate in accessible, edge of town locations….’ but the second half of the sentence has the dull thud of truth. They confirm my long held belief that the sector which wields the most power in socially re-engineering our lives is property developers.
LDF Documents not Available in Public Libraries:
On 22nd September I visited the opening of the refurbished West Ealing Library. It’s brighter; has more computer screens; and features toilets. I asked a group of four Library staff if I could view the Local Development Framework Public Consultation documents. They all had no idea what I was talking about and had no idea what these documents were and whether they had a set for viewing. As I wrote on September 14th a friend of mine had an almost identical response at Hanwell Library on 12th September.
Off to Southall tonight for the third LDF consultation meetings. I’ll probably pop into the Library first to view the documents….
24th September, 2009