Your views wanted on plans for West Ealing

West Ealing is changing fast.  Hundreds of milions of pounds are being spent on redeveloping the Green Man Lane and Sherwood Close Estates and millions more wil be spent redeveloping the BHS site. As a result many hundreds of new families wil make West Ealing their home.On top of this we have Crossrail coming in 2018 and all the changes that it is likely to bring to the area. At this time of great change the West Ealing Centre Neighbourhood Forum has put together a detailed spatial plan for land use in the centre of West Ealing (see map below for area of plan).  The plan looks at how a series of sites in West Ealing could be developed.  These include the Royal Mail building in Manor Road and Chignell Place along with some radical ideas for building a mixed use development at the southern edge of Dean Gardens.

Also included are outline plans for how to invest the money from the future Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that will go to WECNF if their plans are approved.  The CIL is a planning charge paid by developers to support the local infrastructure. WECNF’s plans propose investing in improving or replacing Jacob’s Ladder, maintaining the old Woolworth’s facade, improving Dean Gardens as well as investing in community facilities and community arts.

Lastly, WECNF put forward a series of local buildings as heritage assets. Buildings such as the Salvation Army Hall in Leeland Road, Ealing Magistrates’ Court, the bookend buildings to the entrance to Chignell Place, the parade of shops and offices above Barclays Bank and the two art deco buildings at the top of St James Avenue.

So, this isn’t just a dry old document. It’s a plan that profoundly affects how West Ealing could develop over the next decade.  These plans are available to view at West Ealing Library and are on their website.  Comments are very welcome and the closing date for these is 5th October. Comments should be emailed to


You are now entering – West Ealing Centre Neighbourhood

Congratulations to West Ealing Centre Neighbourhood Forum (WECNF) which was formally designated by the council last month. WECNF will now work on presenting a detailed 15-year spatial plan for the centre of West Ealing which could affect all our lives. It will be a plan that comes from the people who work and live in the centre of West Ealing, that’s unpaid volunteers who care deeply and personally about the space we all share. Consultation about the content of this plan, will include a touring ‘play-let’ written by and starring people of West Ealing and all about West Ealing. It will be about 30mins long – so watch this space for news of venues. Next WECNF meeting is Thurs, April 18th at st John’s church, 6.15pm; then Friday 17 May at the mosque, 6.15pm. All welcome. .


More back garden development? – proposed changes to planning laws over back garden extensions

One of WEN’s members is keen to raise awareness  about the government’s proposed changes to planning laws to allow larger back garden extensions without needing permission. It’s a topic that’s certainly got a number of local councils stirred up and could affect local residents.

He writes  ‘The government plans to change Planning laws so that your neighbour can build a 6-metre extension 4 metres high without needing any permission from anyone – least of all from you.

This may be fine for cabinet ministers who live in spacious areas. But 80% of us live incities, where small gardens provide most of the green space. In our terrace, the back gardens are 12 metres long. Half your neighbour’s garden gone – perhaps on both sides of you? Plus separate outbuildings, if they choose? And you’ll get no protection from Planning laws that used to protect you from overbearing, dominating, character-destroying developments. The government wants this to happen!

The government’s consultation period ends 24 December. We need all our friends across the country to say what they think of this proposal. You can reply online at this location:

or you can write to Helen Marks via e-mail:

or on paper:

Helen Marks

Permitted Development Rights – Consultation

Department for Communities and Local Government

Zone 1/J3 Eland House

Bressenden Place

London SW1E 5DU

Tell your MP and David Cameron and Eric Pickles what you think. And get your friends across the country to do the same – or we could all find ourselves in concrete jungles.’

Download this page at

Local people to plan the centres of Ealing and West Ealing

According to the new Localism Act local people will soon be able to assemble a Neighbourhood Forum of 21 people or more who will discuss and propose the design of their local area. Save Ealing Centre (SEC), an alliance of 25 residents’ and community groups, has proposed the setting up of two Neighbourhood Forums – one for Ealing centre and one for West Ealingcentre. As part of these initiatives in 2011, SEC sought funding from national government, which if successful would amount to £40,000. We’ll hear soon whether this bid has been successful.

Neighbourhood Forums are required to be made up of a representative group of local stakeholders. I expect residents’ groups, community groups, businesses, faith groups, educational establishments and infrastructure providers to attend and contribute to these forum meetings.

These forum meetings are likely to be a breath of fresh air as they are likely to be the first such regular meetings in modern times at which local people/traders/service providers will be asked about how they want their town centres to be preserved, re-used and /or ‘developed’. These will be difficult discussions in which trade-offs between different needs – like quality of life, culture, healthcare, education, law and order, business and housing – will have to be thrashed out.

Unsurprisingly there are whole ‘rafts’ of planning legislation which the forums will have to wrestle with. At national level we have the newly proposed NationalPlanning PolicyFramework. At regional level we have the new version of The London Plan. At town level we have Ealing Council’s draft Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS). National government will decide whether it wants to accept Ealing’s LDF CS in early 2012.

All these planning policies contain a presumption in favour of property development, which seems somewhat out of place in a country with massive debts, a depressed construction industry and with no prospects of any significant economic growth for years to come. However it appears that no major political party wants to adopt a common sense policy of making the best use of what we’ve got.

The Localism Act will become fully enabled by April 2012. Neighbourhood Forums have a lifetime of five years. To find out more about Neighbourhood Forums and the Localism Bill you’ll find a useful briefing at To track progress of these Ealing Neighbourhood Forum  initiatives see SEC’s web site at and West Ealing Neighbours’ web site at


Eric Leach

3 January 2012

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Final Day

DAY 8 – Wednesday 23 November 2011

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

Elizabeth Fieldhouse, the Government appointed Planning Inspector, today concluded her examination of Ealing Council’s 15 year land use plans. Her public examination hearings, which lasted eight and a half days, have considered Ealing Council’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

Hard copies of the latest batch (200+!) of the Inspector’s suggested changes and the Council’s responses were handed out to attendees. There were many queries on the detailed Council responses and none more so than on heritage issues. Representatives from the Ealing Cricket Ground Area Panel (CGAP), Ealing Civic Society (ECS) and the LibDems all made various attempts to make the LDF CS more heritage friendly but met stout resistance from Ealing Council. ECS strongly questioned why there was no explicit protection for Ealing centre’s heritage assets.

Continue reading “Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Final Day”

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Phasing, delivery and monitoring and UDP

DAY 7 – Wednesday 16 November 2011

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

I missed the morning session on Maps but attended most of the afternoon session on phasing etc.

The Government Inspector Elizabeth Fieldhouse asked the Council to make explicit reference in the 15 year spatial strategy plans (the Local Development Framework Core Strategy – LDF CS) to the fact that the delivery schedule would be updated annually.

Ealing Civic Society (ECS) argued that parts of the delivery schedule (eg education) were not up to date or consistent and the Inspector asked the Council to bring the schedule up to date in the final LDF CS submission document.

The Inspector emphasised that although there were quantitative targets for some aspects of the LDF CS (eg office space, industrial space, new homes, and retail space) such targets were missing for other aspects of the plan. The Inspector also wanted to see more attention given to phasing in the delivery schedule. In order for the LDF Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) to be effective there had to be quantitative reporting against delivery milestones.

Continue reading “Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Phasing, delivery and monitoring and UDP”

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Protecting and Enhancing Ealing’s Green and Open Spaces

DAY 6 – Tuesday 15 November 2011

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

Inspector Fieldhouse began today with examining Ealing’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS) with respect to protecting and enhancing Ealing’s green and open spaces over the next 15 years. The afternoon session would cover Climate Change and Sustainable Development (see below).

This was a better attended session with some 20 objectors and five Council Officers. We even had our first Ealing Councillor attend – Conservative Nigel Sumner from Hanger Hill Ward.

A representative from Twyford Abbey argued hard and long that the 5 hectares of Abbey land should become primarily a public park, with the Abbey converted to residential use and some other residential development on the site. Ealing Council was not convinced.

Continue reading “Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Protecting and Enhancing Ealing’s Green and Open Spaces”

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Public Services, retail and employment issues

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

DAY 5 – Thursday 10 November 2011

Government Inspector Fieldhouse is examining Ealing Council’s 15 year spatial plan for the borough in a series of public meetings being held in Ealing Town Hall. The plan’s strategy is contained in Ealing’s Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS) which was reviewed by Ealing residents and others in Autumn 2010.

The first subject reviewed on Thursday was retail. The plan outlines a retail hierarchy with Ealing and West Ealing centre – with its Metropolitan Centre status – at the head of the pyramid, below which we have the Major Centres of Acton centre, Greenford centre, Hanwell centre and Southall centre. Below that are 11 District Centres, of which Northfield Avenue is one of them.

SEC promptly questioned yet again the validity of designating Ealing centre and West Ealing centre as a Metropolitan Town Centre (MTC). It’s ‘real’ centre (Ealing Broadway) is too small; it’s two centres not one; it can’t ‘compete with its 10 other peer MTCs in London; and the MTC status provides an excuse for additional policies. For example as was revealed earlier this week the MTC status provides the excuse for massive, proposed development of the centre of West Ealing. At the same time Hanwell centre, which in many ways is a similar but smaller version of West Ealing centre, is scheduled for no development whatsoever. The Inspector, not for the first time, had to confirm that like it or not The London Plan (TLP) specifies that Ealing centre and West Ealing centre are an MTC and this examination can’t change that.

Ealing Fields representative then spent quite some time examining the Council’s retail targets and the Evidence Base which supports the plan to add 50,000 sq metres of additional retail space within Ealing centre. So that we were all aware of the scale of this uplift he’d calculated that this area represented seven times the retail area being built at Dickens Yard. That is in effect 140 new medium sized shops. He made it abundantly clear that he felt that the retail target and the assumptions and calculations used to derive the target were all ‘horribly wrong’.

The Council based its projections on a number of pieces of commissioned and non-commissioned research. They participated in a West London retail study in 2007 which was ‘refreshed’ in 2010.

The first wrong assumption, recycled from 2007, was that people would exit Ealing Broadway Station and go searching for retail destinations.

The Council’s consultant Roger Tym had presented the Council with 3 different retail scenarios and the Council had selected the Aspirational Scenario. This scenario assumes that Ealing centre will claw back retail expenditure lost to Westfield White City. The Tym figures for some reason significantly underestimate the size of the online slice of the retail pie. The Council had also used data from Oxford Economics studies. The latter produced two relevant forecasts, one significantly lower than the other. The Council took an average of the two forecasts. The Ealing Fields representative – a public and private sector forensic accountant, with over 20 years data modelling experience – had never before seen any organisation adopt this averaging ‘device’. If the lower, more conservative forecast had been selected, the target retail space figure would have been significantly lower.

Ealing Council made it abundantly clear that they were happy with the targets and felt that the expert advice they had received and interpreted was robust and authoritative.

Ealing centre is not a high quality retail destination as described in the LDF CS. There is an acknowledged and clear quality gap in Ealing centre’s fashion retail offerings. Aspirational shoppers typically drive to their retail destinations. Access by car from the west from Hanwell is poor. Access from the west from beyond Southall is very poor.  Sadly the market has determined that Ealing centre is a down market retail centre, typified by retailers like Primark, Superdrug and Argos. Case studies are thin on the ground of centres which have been‘re-engineered’ from down-market retail destinations to up-market retail destinations. The real centre of Ealing is not only small compared to its MTC competitors but it is additionally challenged by the plethora of Conservation Areas. These factors severely constrain any significant retail floor space expansion.

Kingsdown Residents Association (KRA) joined in the debate pointing out that Ealing centre was clearly more of a ‘strip’ than a ‘centre’. There are lots of empty shops and some major attempts to replace retail facilities with blocks of flats and new retail at ground level have failed. Daniels historic department store site has had its new block of flats now for four years but at ground level its new retail space is still empty now after  four years. Shopper car parks are being or are planned to be removed in the western sector of the EMTC. In Northfield Avenue the traders claim that break even is achieved from shoppers walking, cycling and bussing to their shops. Profit comes from passing trade by people in cars. So car parking slots are crucial to retail survival in District Centres like Northfield Avenue. But there is an absence of explicit car parking policy in the LDF CS.

Ealing Civic Society (ECS) pointed out the absence of any policy with regards to minimising the number of empty shops.

WEN sung the praises of the ‘out of town’ West Way Cross retail park at Paradise Fields in Greenford. Here one can drive to the park; always find a car parking slot (all of which are free); and enjoy spacious shopping at WH Smith, Boots and other stores. To my knowledge it was the only ‘District Centre’ enjoying expansion with a Costa Coffee shop and another shop being recently built there. I said that this successful retail model should be replicated throughout Ealing. I was then stunned by a Council Officer telling me that there would be no more such retail parks in Ealing as The London Plan (TLP) discouraged them; that they were ‘not sustainable’; and that the TLP only encouraged retail expansion in town centres.

The Lib Dem representative pointed out that there was no thematic section in the plans on retail. The Inspector agreed that this was a deficiency and instructed the Council to create one.

The examination then moved onto reviewing Ealing’s proposals on the future provision of public facilities and services. WEN made the point that as regards the three primary facilities and services the LDF CS failed to meet likely future needs because the Local Planning Authority had little and diminishing control over the provision of law and order, healthcare and education facilities and services throughout the borough.

The LibDems were concerned about the lack of provision for cultural facilities and services. ECS pointed out the lack of provision of built leisure facilities, especially in the centre of Ealing. There was much debate about the re-purposing of Acton Town Hall. The Council defended the planned reduction in leisure/community space there by aiming to make better use of the space. ECS thought approach was unlikely to improve service provision given that 4,000 new residents were expected in Acton with 1,000 in the centre alone.

Ealing Fields expressed the hope that where large new residential developments were planned that public service infrastructure should be built before the influx of new people actually occurred. Such early service provision was vital for babies and toddlers. The Council felt unable for a variety of reasons to go along with this but did say that there was some pre-development infrastructure to take place at the Southall Gas Works site. Here we were told that a new Primary School would be built and that existing local Secondary Schools could be expanded to handle the needs of the 8,000 newcomers.

Employment issues were next on the agenda.

A land owner in Hanger Hill Ward with a car park near Hanger Lane tube station yet again attempted to make his case for a mixed use development on the site. In summary he’s confident that when the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) comes into force in 2012, his application will be favourably reviewed and Ealing’s policy with be in conflict with the NPPF.

A Greenford land owner asked for more flexibility in land use policies and he actually benefited as some relevant part of the LDF CS had been mis-stated. The correction offered appeared to give him some comfort.

SEC complained that there wasn’t really much in the way of employment policy or in supporting evidence in the documents. There was little in the proposals on culture or education. There was no real evaluation of what Crossrail might deliver in the way of employment opportunities. Crossrail could bring about major changes to the structure of Ealing especially in the centre of Ealing. Ealing Council responded by outlining that Crossrail itself had done its own research re office potential.

SEC again emphasised that the large amount of empty office space was some distance form Ealing Broadway Station in the so called Office Alley. Current planning policy in the Office Alley seemed somewhat confused as was demonstrated at the Westel House site which has been variously offices and a university and was soon to become a private residential skyscraper and a hotel.

The afternoon session was devoted to the Residential Hinterlands, which is the area which nestles between the A40 development corridor and the Uxbridge Road/Crossrail development corridor. I was unable to attend this session.

Eric Leach
11 November 2011

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Uxbridge Road and Crossrail Corridor

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

DAY 4 – Tuesday

Government Inspector Elizabeth Fieldhouse continued her examination of Ealing Council’s Local Development Plan Core Strategy (LDF CS) 2011 – 2016 on Tuesday. The LDF CS sets out the strategy for how Ealing’s 21 square miles of land will be used over the next 15 years.

The LDF CS specifies a two kilometre wide east/west development strip straddling the Uxbridge Road from Acton to Southall. Here over the next 15 years over 9,000 new homes are proposed. 2,600 of them alone will be on the Southall Gas Works site with another 2,600 built in the centre of Ealing.

Continue reading “Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – Uxbridge Road and Crossrail Corridor”

Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – A40 Corridor and Park Royal

As part of an ongoing series, Eric Leach reports from the Independent Examination of Ealing Council’s 2026 Local Development Framework Core Strategy (LDF CS).

DAY 3 – Thursday 3 November 2011

Government Inspector Elizabeth Fieldhouse this morning examined Ealing Council’s plans for the A40 Corridor and Park Royal in front of a dwindling audience of residents’ community groups and two land owners. Consistent with the rest of the Ealing Local Development Framework Core Strategy the thrust of the plans are for new housing (3,000+ units).

Ealing Council provided a useful update on high speed upgrade Continue reading “Government Examines Ealing’s 15 Year Plan – A40 Corridor and Park Royal”