The increasing number of tall buildings across the borough is proving highly controversial. Do tall buildings maximise the use of a very limited resource – land? Or are they repeating the planning failures of the 1960s and letting future generations pick up the bill to put right today’s mistakes?
West Ealing Neighbours fully supported the efforts of the Stop The Towers campaign to halt the proposed Manor Road tall tower next to West Ealing station. In October 2020 the Council’s planning committee rejected the proposal but the developer took it to appeal and in October 2021 it won. Most of the area of the site is now fenced off though the computer repair shop seems to be holding out.
One of the key factors in the developer winning its appeal was the Council’s failure to provide proof it was meeting its annual housing target and had an adequate pipeline of housing supply for future. The developer’s legal team made much of this lack of information. Yet, just a few months later the Council was able to supply these figures having been made to by the Local Authority Ombudsman. Why did it take a referral to the Ombudsman to force the Council to fulfil its statutory duty? Have a read of the response from Stop The Towers below and make up your own mind:
‘Was information withheld from the inquiry?
work about to begin on the controversial Manor Road tower, Stop The
Towers (STT) has discovered that key evidence supporting our case, which
Ealing Council said didn’t exist, is in fact available, but
inexplicably wasn’t presented at the inquiry.
At the inquiry an
important issue was Ealing’s housing supply figures; not just evidence
of what had been built in the past five years but also anticipated five
year land supply figures. If Ealing Council had met its annual housing
targets and could prove that there was adequate supply in the pipeline,
then there was little justification for the Manor Road tower. But if
Ealing Council couldn’t show it had met its target, there’d be a
presumption in favour of development(known as the ’tilted balance’) so
planning permission would be granted – a point seized on by the
developers and their lawyers.
Prior to the Manor Road planning
inquiry, STT repeatedly requested these figures from Ealing Council’s
leadership / head of ‘Good Growth’. The Council should have already
published them in an Annual or, recently renamed, Authority Monitoring
Report (AMR) which all authorities have to produce. But unbelievably
Ealing Council have failed to publish any AMRs since 2014 and despite
STTs attempts to obtain information, Ealing Council repeatedly claimed
the figures didn’t exist. In fact conversations were had with senior
Cabinet personnel who implied that were STT to force the issue, then any
figures may show that the Council couldn’t meet their targets
(currently 2,157 units per annum).
Local residents group, Ealing
Matters reported Ealing Council to the Local Authority Ombudsman who
ruled that Ealing Council had failed to fulfil their statutory duties
and that these figures MUST be produced IN FULL by December 2021. In
response, the council published an ‘Interim Authority Monitoring Report’
covering the five year period 2014/15 – 2018/19.
Shockingly this interim report proves that Ealing Council met its housing delivery test results for 2018-2020 with up to 135% over delivery
*. Not only have they consistently exceeded targets (which isn’t
surprising given how many cranes that are visible in the skyline over
the last few years), but over 11,000 new units have been given Planning
permission that are yet to be built. So even without the 2021 planning
approvals or any new pre-application discussions, this should meet the
five year land supply figures.
Why were the figures withheld, and what does this mean?
council had a statutory obligation to correctly record these figures,
which it failed to do. It also had a moral obligation to disclose them
to the inquiry, again which it didn’t do. Was this incompetence, or a
Whilst not a silver bullet, had our barristers
had these figures it would have greatly improved our chances of
succeeding at the inquiry. But as a result we lost, and Ealing council
has to pay the developers huge legal bill, possibiy circa £250,000**.
So not only has this incompetence caused the Manor tower to be
approved/built, it’s also cost taxpayers wasted legal fees.
the failure to record the AMRs was during Julian Bell’s time as leader,
the person at the helm of housing from 2018-2020 was none other than
Peter Mason, now council leader. He has been in overall charge of the
Council since May 2021. He and Cllr Shital Manro (Cabinet lead for ‘Good
Growth’) refuse to explain the reasons behind these failures. The
Interim AMR still lacks figures relating to a five year land supply and
the full report has not been published in time to meet the Ombudsman’s
Such incompetence needs to be called out.
WHY DID EALING COUNCIL LEADERSHIP NOT DEMONSTRATE A FIVE YEAR SUPPLY?
WHAT IS THE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP’s EXCUSE FOR FAILING TO DEFEND THEIR OWN PLANNING COMMITTEE DECISION IN AN ADEQUATE FASHION?
WHY HAVE THESE DECISIONS NOT TO PUBLISH BEEN ALLOWED TO COST EALING COUNCIL TAX PAYERS AN UNNECESSARY HUGE LEGAL BILL?
Questions we will ask the council leadership. If we get answers, we’ll let you know.
I worked at Gypsy Corner in North Acton for over 20 years from 1975. Now, I barely recognise any part of it. WEN received this email from the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum about yet another planned major development for this already highly developed area close to North Acton tube station.
‘A planning application for a development of seven buildings on site at North Acton has been submitted by Imperial College. The application will be decided by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. OPDC has decided on this occasion not to ‘delegate’ the application to Ealing Council. Ealing’s Planning Committee has made the previous decisions on schemes at North Acton, on behalf of OPDC.
If this application is approved and these buildings are constructed, the CGI image below is what the increasingly notorious ‘North Acton Cluster’ will look like. The 55 storey tower at One West Point will be joined by a 56 storey tower in the first phase of Imperial’s development. Outline planning permission is being sought for two further residential towers of ‘up to 50 storeys’.
Image from Pilbrow and Partners Design and Access Statement
Planning permission is not a foregone conclusion. The OPDC Draft Local Plan has not yet been adopted. The Planning Inspector is looking at the implications of new policies on building heights, introduced last year in the 2021 London Plan.
Your objection can make a difference. The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum is working with several organisations in Ealing, Hammersmith and North Kensington to resist this proposed development. These are some of the reasons why you may wish to send in an objection to the OPDC.
The ‘North Acton cluster’ is fast becoming London’s latest urban renewal disaster – traffic-ridden, windswept, sunless and with empty ground floor shop units and poor public spaces
This is massive overdevelopment of the site. North Acton station cannot cope with this number of new residents.
Who will provide the schools, GP surgeries and other amenities that North Acton has long been promised?
Where does OPDC’s Draft Local Plan say that local residents should expect three more towers of 50 storeys at North Acton?
We had understood that the modified London Plan Policy D9 protects us from further tall buildings of this scale – unless and until a local plan is clear on suitable locations and appropriate building heights. No such local plan yet exists.
Residential towers are now known to use far more embedded carbon in their construction, and more energy in their daily use, than lower rise housing. These are proposals from a past era. We and our children deserve better in the 2020s.
Views and skylines across West London continue to be destroyed by developments which will prove to be of the wrong kind in the wrong place. Please do not repeat the errors of Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea.
It is best if you can put some of these points in your own words and/or add others most relevant to where you live. ‘Cut and paste’ objections tend to be largely ignored by planning committees.
The point about London Plan policy D9 is important. This is one of our best chances of seeing the application refused.
You can find more information on the application on the OPDC website at this link. The stated closing date for comments is 8th January. We have asked for a 3-4 week extension given the scale of the proposals and the fact that the consultation period has been over the Xmas and New Year period.
It is possible to submit a response online via the OPDC’s cumbersome system. Easier to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or by post to Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation at c/o Brent Civic Centre, 32 Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ.
The OPDC rules for commenting on planning applications are below:
You must include your full name and address and preferably an e-mail address, if you have one. We are unable to accept anonymous comments so if you do not provide your full name and address, your comments will not be considered.
Please be aware we cannot treat yourcomments as confidential and they will be displayed on our Planning Register, so they can be seen by other people, but your personal details will be removed. We are not able to acknowledge receipt of your comments.
By law, planning authorities have to take account of representations up until the point when a decision is made. But if you can submit in the next few days, so much the better.
I only joined the volunteer litter picking group LAGER Can last year so am new to this. Even so I was with a group in December cleaning up Witham Road and we did get given a box of cucumbers. So it does have some rewards!
In 2021 LAGER Can filled 24,561 sacks full of rubbish across the borough with bottles and cans making up a significant percentage of this rubbish. LAGER Can’s Cathy Swift makes a good point that a national deposit scheme for cans and bottles would greatly cut down how many of these are just thrown away. I’m old enough to remember collecting bottles as a child and taking them back to shops to claim the deposits. So, it’s been done before so why not again?
With my West Ealing Neighbours hat on, WEN has been working with LAGER Can, West Ealing Business Improvement District and local councillors to try to resolve some of West Ealing’s litter and fly-tipping hot spots – Canberra Road, Witham Road, library car park and so on. The problems identified include flats with no bins; clothes left outside charity shops at night which get searched through and end up strewn across the pavements; one or two shops not disposing of their waste correctly; and night-time fly-tipping.
These are not always quick and easy problems to solve but we are trying. LAGER Can has played a vital part in looking for solutions – talking to shop owners, talking to residents and looking for evidence of who is fly-tipping. I hope between us we can make more progress in 2022 and continue to help clean up West Ealing’s streets – watch out for LAGER Can’s distinctive blue bags – and maybe some cucumbers – as signs of action happening.
We featured the earlier campaign in Hanwell to save the Arts & Crafts house in Church Road. This campaign was successful. There is now a threat to overdevelopthe property’s rear garden with considerable loss of green space and the danger of setting a precedent in a conservation area. This is the information we have received about this new campaign:
THANK YOU very much to the
residents who raised 400 objections which
stopped a planning application to demolish a 1912 Arts & Crafts house at
178 Church Road, Hanwell W7 3BP to build six flats and two houses in a
conservation area. Objectors included James
Murray, MP for Ealing North, Ward Councillors, numerous individuals and
groups. A new application has been filed
by the developers Luxegrove Homes and the battle
is now on to prevent the rear garden from being replaced with:
Two, 8.5m high
4-bed semi-detached houses with bin
storage and 6 cycle racks for 14 people
Could you PLEASE object to this new
planning application to prevent:
60% loss of
greenery – 18 trees, a 200-foot hedge
and shrubs which all mitigate climate change
Setting a precedentfor back garden housing in a conservation area and for future builds
The saved Arts & Crafts
house facing the road, will be turned into two flats with a rear extension, roof
terrace and green roof to house 7 people.
A mix of flats and housing is a gross over development with an odd layout, poorly designed houses
and a lack of privacy for the 21 proposed residents and neighbours.
semi-detached houses do not complement the existing house. The design is poor, with a crude amalgamation
of various traditional elements which lack cohesion and architectural integrity
The small gardens
are not in keeping with the conservation area which features spacious plots
Village Green Conservation Area Appraisal states that “gardens should
preferably be maintained” whilst The Mayor’s London Plan, sets out ‘the principle
of no net loss of overall green cover’ for new builds. The plot is greenfield,
not brownfield land, as stated by the developers
The houses are 0.7m from 2 neighbour
boundaries – too dense, overbearing and over shadowing
Two parking spaces for the
houses are sited in front of the flat windows an
inconvenient 65m walk
The configuration of the site in co-locating both flats
and houses compromises the special character of the Conservation Area, diminishing
self-containment, privacy and peace for future residents
RATIONALE FOR REFUSAL:
Overdevelopment of a long, narrow site to house 21
people is not appropriate in this area
Loss of important landscape features and the openness and
character of generous plots
The rear semi-detached houses are not of an
acceptable quality and their design would be out of character with the pattern
of development in the area and detrimental to the conservation area
Adverse impacts on the amenity of nearby dwellings
The benefit of extra housing does not outweigh
the harm to the conservation area
West Ealing library is back open again for three days a week. It’s looking for volunteers to help extend its opening hours and for ways to once again be a hub for the local community. It’s already running a range of classes and activities and are looking for ideas to expand these. The library’s development officer Rachel Bangera de Souza writes:
“After a backdrop of council cuts in the area, West Ealing Library became community managed in 2020 and began a phased opening to the general public in July 2020. Our team of dedicated volunteers and Ealing and Hounslow Community Voluntary Service (EHCVS) gave been working hard so far and we’re now open every week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm. We’ve also got the knitting group back in the library, have storytimes running every Tuesday with sessions at 10am and 10:45am and have Digital Champions providing drop-in digital support 3 times a week. To keep up to date with how we’re getting on, have a look at our website www.westealingcommunitylibrary.co.uk or our Facebook page.
We’re keen for the local community can get involved in the library to keep the library going as a thriving community hub. If you’re looking to volunteer at the library then please go on our website here, to look at our available long-term roles and register your interest. We also welcome offers from groups for one-off jobs like washing windows, cleaning and decorating, so please email email@example.com if you’d like to set something up.
Now, we’re also looking for ways that local groups and businesses can support us to keep expanding our activities, so if you’re looking for a long-term base for your organisation, or looking for a venue for meetings, activities and events, we have just the solution for you! Explore our options for venue hire and permanent office space and help support the running of West Ealing Community Library with the added benefit of having EHCVS’ network of charities, community and voluntary groups at your fingertips.
We have permanent office space and hot desking options with kitchen facilities, internet connection and printing/copying services available for your organization to use. We also have venue hire options including the newly built training room in the library which are all modern and wheelchair accessible. For more details and prices please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not interested in room hire but are looking to support the library in other ways through your business whether it be financial or otherwise? Please email us at email@example.com.
We look forward to welcoming more of you back in the library and getting the community fully involved!”
number of local residents’ groups, including Ealing Matters, Save
Ealing’s Centre, Stop the Towers, Draytons Community Association and
Save Gurnell, have got together and designed an online survey to find
out about residents’ experience of living in Ealing.
They are reaching out to every part of the borough to obtain as full a picture of residents’ attitudes as possible, and they would love to hear your views.
The survey is anonymous. That means that they will not collect any information or publish the results in a form that would make you personally identifiable.
The information you provide will help them understand people’s priorities across the borough. Thank you for taking part!
PS The Council is running a separate online survey at the moment to help shape the new Local Plan. It’s called Shaping Ealing and we are encouraging everyone to take part in that survey as well since the Local Plan will determine how Ealing changes over the next 15 years.
Sadly, the decision by The Planning Inspectorate to give the go-ahead for this tower is no great surprise. The documentation with this decision is long and detailed. These are some of the key points about the Inspector’s decison:
‘The Council’s acceptance that it cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.’ The Council appears not to have proper records to prove it does not need this site to meet its housing targets.
The area around the site is largely non-residential.
There are already ‘buildings of significant size in the immediate area’ – Waitrose, Luminoscity, Sinclair House, Dominion House and the new station.
The proposed site itself is single -storey buildings of poor quality and under-used.
The starting point to assess the proposed tall building is ‘whether the site is worthy of the gesture. A spine of taller development is evolving along the path of the railway.’ This proposal would be seen as another part of that spine. So the site is worthy of the gesture.
The proposed building (not as high as that originally proposed) would not appear as an alien insertion into the townscape. It would be an indicator of the transition from buildings of lower size and height to the more intensive uses and buildings of greater height around the node or hub formed by the meeting of the roads, their crossing of the railway and the station.
The design, as long as the materials are of high quality, will be an exemplary piece of design that will make a positive contribution to the area.
The proposed building is well outside the conservation area and we should not equate visibility and harm.
The Council is delivering at best 40% of its objectively assessed need for affordable housing. The provision of these 144 units would be all be affordable homes.
There is no unacceptable impact on the living conditions of existing residents through loss of sunlight, loss of daylight, visual impact, overshadowing, overlooking and loss of privacy.
No Blue Badge parking will not be a deterrent given it is next to the step-free access station and the developer will give £10,000 to the Council to provide Blue Badge parking nearby.
Back again, this is a really great couple of hours for the family. Follow the pumpkin trail, stop off for a glass of beer or mulled wine and food or tea and cake. Entry is free and the main entrance is half way up Northfield Ave.
There’s a lot more to the survey than just these headlines but these suggestions feature well up the list of people’s choices for how to improve the park. What was not scored high were such ideas as re-aligning the cycle track, installing a cycle repair station and putting in distance markers.
The full results of the consultation are now on the Council’s website. It’s a detailed report, so plenty to read. It’s well worth noting that the consultation had a very good response with 843 replies which compares very well with the response to many other Council consultations.
The report pinpoints the reasons why people go to Dean Gardens. ‘ The most popular reason for people to go to Dean Gardens with almost half of all respondents walking through it on their way to another destination such as school, shops, work or the station. Cycling through the park, the children’s play area, doing informal exercise and using the park for quiet relaxation were also popular reasons. Very few respondents use the park for team sports and dog walking and 60 respondents said they don’t visit the park. Respondents could select more than one answer from the list and could also give other reasons.
Other reasons people gave included attending local festivals and events in the park, walking through the park to avoid the busy main road, playing basketball, roller-skating and skateboarding and using the park as part of a longer walking or running route.’
Following on from this the report gives the responses to the questions asked about what improvements they would like to see from a list provided by the Council. From these responses the report lasy out what improvements will start to be made and when. The first improvements will be made this winter and include: