Last night the fourth and final 2009 Ealing LDF Public Consultation meeting was held in the hall of the Parish Church of St Mary’s in the centre of Acton. Around 40 local residents attended. Councillors Cameron, Millican, Seemar, Kumar and Rose attended. Angie Bray, who is highly likely to be Acton’s next MP, was also there. However the LBE big gun who surprisingly attended and participated was the Director in charge of the Property, Regeneration and Planning teams – Berkshire resident, Brendon Walsh.
LBE’s Steve Barton admitted to the whole audience that if the September 2009 Ealing LDF Core Strategy document set as is were to be submitted to the National Government’s Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, it would be rejected. He accepted that the lack of evidence and details on the new social and community facilities to support the 20,000 to 30,000 new residents over the next 17 years would trigger this rejection. (Later in our group session I pointed out the irony of the 308 pages being not fit for National Government but fit for Ealing residents to review).
The three groups of residents came up with similar conclusions to virtually all the groups at the previous meetings in Ealing centre, Greenford and Southall:
Residents are clearly uncertain as to why and how Ealing should entertain more residents. In fact why does Ealing have to house many more than Harrow, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow? If this immigration into Ealing has to be imposed by Government why house these incomers in tall residential tower blocks in the heavily built up areas around Acton, Ealing, West Ealing and Southall stations? Residents don’t want these tower blocks. If new residents have to come to Ealing, build residential communities for them with social and community facilities built either before they arrive or as the homes are being built. Families need houses not flats. Shouldn’t Climate Change, Peak Oil and sustainability issues be at the heart of this Core Strategy – not something tagged onto the back of it? Why no definition of the height of ‘Tall Landmark’ buildings? Re-use empty properties instead of knocking them down. Why no evidence of alternative strategies having been entertained – and why no audit trail as to why these alternatives were rejected?
Acton issues highlighted include:
No mention of the 25 metre Green Corridor along both sides of Western Avenue. The car parking chaos caused by large numbers of Carphone Warehouse staff parking in residential streets fanning out from Gypsy Corner. The existing and likely worsening pollution for residents living close to Park Royal. Some of the plans for Park Royal look suspiciously just like what the Park Royal Partnership (of industrialists) want. We have plenty of landmark buildings in Acton – there’s no need for any more. Our GPs and schools are up to capacity already – there’s no way we can take more residents in Acton.
LBE’s Steve Barton admitted that LBE had failed to give residents who participated in the 2007 LDF consultation any feedback at all. He promised that this would not happen with this 2009 exercise. He conceded that the publicising of these four Public Consultation meetings had not been good.
As I appear to be that only Ealing resident to have attended all four of these meetings I’m well placed to make some observations. Even accepting that some residents attended more than one meeting, the total number of residents who attended these meetings is around160. Out of an adult population of 240,000 this attendance is very poor. We’ll never know just how many residents would have attended if publicity had been good. But let me give you all a local, recent metric to compare it with:
In 2006 the newly formed Save Ealing’s Centre (SEC) alliance organised and publicised a public meeting on town centre development In Ealing Town Hall on the 29th November. Over 300 residents came to that meeting.
If a bunch of volunteers can organise one meeting with 300 attending and a £billion public organisation can’t get half that number to four meetings – you begin to ask yourself whether the public organisation actually wanted lots of residents to attend these public meetings……
Soon we’ll publish on this blog my own personal set of comments on the 2006 Ealing LDF Core Strategy Public Consultation. I hope you get chance to read them and find them useful.
You still have till 16th October, 2009 to submit your comments. I’ll sure Steve still has some copies of the documents for you to purchase.
2nd October, 2009