Our objections to planning application to redevelop Gurnell Leisure Centre

The plans to redevelop the Gurnell leisure centre site have proved highly controversial and have undergone some significant changes to get to this stage. The developer, Ecoworld, pulled out of plans to build the complete development including affordable housing and a new leisure centre. The Council will now have to take on these elements. The formal planning application is now live on the Council’s website.

Ecoworld, has created a special website giving details of their plans including 599 homes ranging from 6 to 17 storeys, and a new leisure centre with a 50m pool.

There is strong opposition to these plans – Stop The Gurnell Overdevelopment. Their website is here.

This week WEN submitted the following objections:

1 Loss of Metropolitan Open land and green space

This site is designated Metropolitan Open Land and the planned development on this land wholly contradicts Ealing Council’s own policies on the value and protection of both Metropolitan Open land and green space. The importance of green space has been put in to very sharp focus by the current Coronavirus pandemic. The Council should be doing all it can to protect and enhance such space and not build on it. Once green space is built upon it is lost to the public for generations if not for all time.

2 Out of keeping with the surrounding residential area

The planned development with its six tower blocks going up to 17-storeys high and 599 units is totally out of keeping with the low-rise character and style of architecture of the nearby residential housing.  It is a gross overdevelopment of this site and will provide and overbearing and domineering series of towers scarring the landscape causing loss of daylight and sunlight to nearby homes in the vicinity.

3 Too few affordable homes

Ealing Council Housing Strategy recognises that the population of the borough is growing. It hs the third largest population of the 32 London boroughs and is expected to increase by some 10% from the 2011 census by 2031. This increase carries with it a need for suitable housing of all types. This development includes only a small amount of Affordable Housing which falls well short of the target of 50% for public sector land. It has only 12 family sized affordable units in the planned housing mix.

4 Wrong balance of types of housing

Ealing Council’s own Private Sector Housing Strategy document states ‘Household composition helps determine the type of housing needed. Ealing has a lower proportion of one person households and couples to the rest of London, but a larger proportion of families (around 25.6%) than the average for London (18.2%). Across Ealing, 49.8% of households have dependent children. Ealing has the third highest (13.5%) proportion of larger (5 person plus) sized households in London, above the London average of 9.7%. ‘

This development has a significant number of Studio and one and two bedroom flats. This is not just the case with this development but many others being built or in the pipeline. There are far too few family sized units and so the balance of types of housing in this development is a complete mismatch with the likely demand for types of housing. The housing mix needs to be totally rethought to better match needs.

5 Detrimental impact on the local environment

This development will see the loss of some 158 trees and a loss of habitat for wildlife. This loss, at a time when we have all come to realise the importance of green space and wildlife to our physical and mental health, is an unacceptable price to pay for a development which clearly fails to meet local housing needs.

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