Greenman Lane .. Re-development – The Story So Far


Re-development – The Story So Far

It’s sad to reflect that a housing estate’s life span could be as little as 35 years. Still at least the old Green Man Lane Estate lasted longer than the original West Ealing Waitrose – which only lasted 16 years. West Ealing has 1,000s of Victorian and Edwardian houses, which are still in use – most of them in permanent occupation for over 100 years.

One really does wonder what the aspirations of Ealing Council and the developers were in the 1970s as 71% of all the 464 dwellings on the old estate are one bedroom flats.

A Conservative controlled Council came to power in May 2006. After a period of research the Council announced that the worst estate in Ealing was the South Acton Estate. Work began on improvements there later in 2006. Sadly these ‘improvements’ have been mired in conflict with local residents. The second worst estate was deemed to be Green Man Lane Estate (GMLE).

Existing GMLE residents had differing views about re-development in2006. Some, who have lived in crowded, dangerous, poorly maintained homes for many years, wanted the place knocked down immediately and any kind of new housing built to replace it. Some just wanted to be rehoused somewhere better as soon as possible. Some residents and some local stakeholders, however, saw the re-development meeting the local community needs for two generations or so. This latter group wanted to see:

+ statutory rehousing with additional social housing

+ a new community centre – far superior to the existing one

+ appropriate small business facilities

+ a Police Station

+ a health centre

+ a Deans Gardens-type central garden

+ a new, safer Jacob’s Ladder usable by the disabled and parents with buggies/prams

+ a repurposing of the roads around and through the site which would eliminate the road rage to the immediate north; facilitate better vehicular access to West Ealing Broadway; and alleviate the congested North/South transit to the east

+ an expanded St John’s Primary School

+ play, exercise and sporting facilities for children

+ expanded shopper parking

+ integration of the redevelopment into an agreed West Ealing town centre spatial plan.

None of them way back in 2006 could have imagined that for one reason or another by 2022 virtually none of the 2006 residents would still be living on the site.


Stage 1

In February 2007, Stage 1 of the redevelopment process began with the appointment of Urban Initiatives to undertake a baseline study of the issues and potential of the estate. A Residents Consultative Group was formed – with 17 members.

In May, 2007 WEN posed a number of written questions to Ealing Council about West Ealing regeneration generally and Green Man Lane Estate redevelopment specifically. These questions and the Council’s responses can be found here. Councillors and Council Officers also discussed the issues raised at WEN’s 3rd May, 2007 Public Meeting

On Saturday 14th July, 2007 an open air barbeque was held at Dean Hall as part of Urban Initiatives ongoing public consultation. A Felix Road resident, who is a WEN member, attended this event and his report on it can be found here. He felt that residents living immediately outside the designated estate redevelopment site would not be consulted on how the site might be re-used.

In August 2007 the Council commissioned a door-to-door survey of GMLE residents to ascertain residents views about their homes and the estate. 66% of residents responded to the survey. 71% of residents felt unsafe on the estate at night.

Stage 2

In September, 2007 the Green Man Lane Joint Working Group (GMLJWG) was formed. JWG members include Green Man Lane Estate residents, the Police, St John’s School, Dean Hall representatives and Elthorne Ward Councillors. The JWG meetings were open to the public.

In 2007, the JWG formed a small Developer Selection Group (DSG) to work with Council Officers on the developer selection process. The DSC comprises six residents and a ‘Ward Member’ (presumably one of the three Elthorne Ward Councillors). Solicitors Wragge and financial advisors PwC are also JWC members to provide initial advice.

Many formal and informal meetings took place between October and December 2007 at which ‘stakeholders’ were repeatedly asked which of three options they wanted: refurbishment, partial demolition and refurbishment, or complete demolition and phased re-development. Consistently the majority – including WEN – voted for the latter.

On 27th November, 2007 WEN attended a Green Man Lane Stakeholder Workshop in the Town Hall at which the Council and Urban Initiatives spoke and listened to objectives’ statements, re-development proposal options, issues and challenges.

On 29th January, 2008 Ealing Council Cabinet decided to endorse the progression of the complete development of the Green Man Lane Estate. Up to £800,000 Section 106 money was approved at this meeting to fund the 2008/9 Developer Selection Process and to fund the ‘Phase1 decanting programme, in advance of the selection of the developer partner’.

(Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows a local planning authority to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation with a land developer over a related issue. As no developer has been as yet appointed it can only be assumed that this S106 money is ‘future money’, which the Council hopes to receive when a developer obtains planning permission and enters into an S106 agreement with Ealing Council. Alternatively this S106 money may have been from some previous development, the details of its initial intended deployment lost in the mists of time).

Developer Selection Process

On 8th March, 2008 Ealing Council advertised for ‘visionary developers’ to express their interest in ‘a major housing-lead regeneration project’ at Green Man Lane Estate. The advertisement sub-headline stated ‘London Paddington 12 mins’ – presumably by helicopter.

We understand that 15 developers responded.

On 2nd May, 2008 the £100,000 Tibbalds Report commissioned by Ealing Council and entitled ‘Ealing Metropolitan Centre: Spacial Development Framework’ was published. At the 6th May, 2008 Council Cabinet meeting this report, over one year in the making, was formally accepted as background material consideration for Ealing’s nascent Local Development Framework (LDF). Although the estate lies immediately north of the west extremity of the so called Ealing Metropolitan Centre, the Tibbalds Report proposes that there should be a green space in the centre of the re-development; a total of 750 to 800 flats; and a gym and sports facility.

On 24th June, 2008 the Council Cabinet endorsed the JWC recommendation to proceed to the next stage with six of the original 15 bidders. These six developers were:

  • Countryside and London & Quadrant Housing Trust
  • Hyde Housing Association
  • Mulalley and Network HA
  • Rydon
  • Inspace and Catalyst
  • Durkan, Genesis, Affinity Sutton (plus Pinnacle and Logic Homes).

A Second Stage Developer’s Brief was prepared and was sent off in mid-July, 2008 to the six developers. Responses were required by the Council in early September. WEN asked for a copy of this brief but  was refused a copy  by a Council Housing Regeneration Project manager, who stated that the brief was not a public document.

Council Officers, Council external advisors and the DSG chose a shortlist of two developers in November, 2008. The final stage of the tendering process was completed in Spring, 2009.

WEN was informed in July, 2008 that the Council’s plan included the sale of the Singapore multi-storey and ground level car parks to the selected developer. We did not know if the Developer’s Brief specifies that replacement car parking spaces are required in the re-developed area. In 2007 there were discussions about rebuilding and possibly relocating St John’s School. The Council said this is no longer feasible. The private owners of Dean Hall (currently in use as a church) stated that they wish to remain on their present site. However the Council has not given up the possibility of acquiring the site for use in the development.

In 2007, aspirations were expressed about including the Islamic Centre on Brownlow Road in the development site. This would, of course have given almost direct access to the Uxbridge Road. However these aspirations seem to have fallen by the wayside. (In January, 2009 Ealing Council accepted a plan to demolish the Islamic Centre and build in its place a Middle Eastern architected Mosque – see more about this below).

WEN has consistently raised the issue of the re-development providing some significant relief to the congestion in Felix Road and Eccleston Road – immediately to the north of the site. Again we do not know if any such a suggestion has been included in the Developer’s Brief.

Rydon/A2Dominion and Countryside/London & Quadrant Shortlisted

At the GMLJWG meeting on 23rd October, 2008 it was announced that Rydon/A2 Dominion(RAD), and Countryside/London and Quadrant (CL&Q) had been proposed by the DSG as the two short-listed developers. The Council Cabinet accepted this recommendation on 11th November, 2008. Dome was also been  appointed as the Independent Tenant Advisors.

Countryside and L&Q have both been in the news in recent months.

In November 2008 Countryside announced that it would probably have to make 80 staff redundant. In January 2009 the self-confessed cash-rich L&Q agreed to lend £20 million to cash-poor competitor Genesis Housing Group. Also in January 2009 the Government’s Equality & Human Rights Commission decided to intervene in a Court of Appeal case. The case is a legal battle to decide whether Housing Association tenants have the right to challenge their landlords’ decisions in court. The relevant High Court ruling is one that said that L&Q should be considered a public body in relation to their allocation, management and termination of housing tenancies. This meant that L&Q had to stick to the provisions of human rights laws and be subject to Judicial Review just like any other public body.

However the most enlightening of all the recent press and blog coverage on L&Q concerns its plan to demolish Walthamstow Dogs Stadium and replace it with just residential towers containing 500 flats. The plan includes no provision for any green space, parking, community or leisure facilities. 15,000 residents have signed a petition objecting to the plans. Local activists claim that the stadium was systematically run down in order to portray its sale as tragic but financially unavoidable. The local residents-backed Save Our Stow consortium’s plan would retain the dog track (700 jobs saved), build 254 affordable homes (more than L&Q are offering), a cinema, bowling alley, sports facility and a library.

Secret’ Developer’s Brief

At the 23rd October , 2008 JWG meering WEN asked Councillor Will Brooks when the Developer’s Brief for the site would be released into the public domain. The Council’s long answer to this question by Consultant Council Officer Ian Jones could be translated as ‘never’. The explanation was that the Council wanted to give developers as much latitude as possible to provide a ‘creative’ use of the land – and having a prescriptive requirements specification might constrain the development proposals. WEN regards the failure to release the GML Developer’s Brief as a serious failure of process.

How local stakeholders will be able to evaluate the upcoming Planning Application from the selected developer – when we all have no knowledge of what the developer has been asked to develop –  defies logical explanation?

The next scheduled GMLJWG meeting was to be held in April 2009.

On 29th November, 2008 Countryside/London and Quadrant gave a presentation to Green Man Lane Estate residents on their ideas on how they would rebuild on the site. They presented two different approaches and models. On 6th December, 2008 Rydon/A2 Dominion presented their ideas on re-development to the estate’s residents.

WEN was informed that the Rydon/A2Dominion proposals did include some community facilities. However it would appear that the Countryside /L&Q proposals were exclusively housing.

WEN was not formally invited to either of these meetings but did gate-crash the 6th December, 2008 meeting. WEN appears to be a member of GMLJWG but was not invited to either of these two developer briefings. This again is a failure in process.

On 14th March, 2009 WEN was finally given a copy of the Developer’s Brief. Although this document is dated December 2008 its content must have been known for many weeks before as C/L&Q responded to it by means of a presentation on 29th November, 2008! Each developer presented twice now to mainly GMLE residents and no doubt the DSG will would meet very soon to make its recommendation to the Council’s Cabinet.

Releasing the Developer’s Brief into the public domain probably some 4 months after presenting it to the two developers  seems on the face of it a cynical attempt by the Council to appear ‘open’ and ‘transparent’ when the opposite can be clearly seen as being the case.

New West Ealing Mosque in Singapore Road

On 7th January, 2009 Ealing Council Planning Committee  approved plans for a new Mosque  to be built on the corner of Brownlow Road and Singapore Road. The Mosque will be 50% larger in every way than the Islamic Centre it will replace and it will have an impact on the immediately adjacent GML community. Sad to say there was no reference whatsoever in the Planning Committee deliberations to the redevelopment of GML and how the exotic, Eastern-style building and its gated community would relate to the new GML re-development. In fact a picture, sketch, elevation or visual of the minaret and dome-style building was, incredibly, not made available to the public in the Public Gallery at all during the whole meeting. (In December. 2009 a Council Officer announced that a new Planning Application was in preparation to expand the size of the putative West London Mosque).

On 21st January, 2009 WEN wrote to Councillor Will Brooks and suggested that there had been a failure of process with regards to GMLE redevelopment. On 18th February Councillor Brooks replied to deny WEN’s allegations. His assertion that the Developers Brief contains confidential information is beyond belief. The brief invited the two developers to submit designs and ideas in response to the Council’s aspirations about how to re-use the 8.5 acres. What could possibly be confidential about the Council’s aspirations about re-use of the site?

Unscheduled JWG meeting 23rd February 2009

WEN  attended this meeting. WEN’s staus at this meeting was described in writing as ‘Observer’.

Developers’ Exhibition 28th February 2009

Unbeknown to the vast majority of West Ealing’s 37,000 residents, the two short-listed developers  displayed their ideas on how to re-use the 8.5 GMLE acres at an exhibition in Jubilee Hall and the Community centre in GMLE on Saturday 28th February 2009 – running from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Rydon/A2Dominion To PURCHASE
 the11.5 Acre Green Man Lane Estate Site

Ealing Council Cabinet agreed on 7th April to sell the 8.5 acre site to Rydon/A2Dominion who will submit a planning application to build a housing estate on the site. WEN didn’t expect that planning application to be submitted before January, 2010. (Technically it’s a 250 year Lease – but by the year 2260 the impact of Climate Change could see the site having been under water for years!).

The fact that the Council will sell the 8.5 acres perhaps explains why the Developer’s Brief was kept secret. When public land is sold rights of access, and rights of free passage across the land are lost. The new owners will be free to ‘gate ‘ the whole new community should they so wish; can organise their own law and order by providing a private security force; and can impose a whole host of rules of behaviour on the people it allows into the 8.5 acres. This ‘privatisation’ of the public realm is happening throughout the UK.

WEN is now working with other local stakeholders and other residents’ groups to examine how wider West Ealing social and community service needs can be met in the GMLE redevelopment.

Ealing Council requested a meeting with WEN to discuss GMLE. Representatives from Rydon/A2 Dominion, Conran architects and Ealing Council attended this meeting, which took place on Monday 20th July 2009. WEN made it clear at the meeting what its aspirations were for GMLE. All the other attendees talked about their aspirations for how the site would be developed. It was very apparent that the non-WEN attendees saw the site as exclusively a site for housing. A copy of the Minutes of this meeting arrived at the end of September, 2009 and are published on the Green Man page along with WEN’s’s notes on the meeting.

The September 2009 Ealing Council Local Development Framework (LDF) Draft Core Strategy refers to GMLE and its (potential) contribution of 282 new homes to the area. There is no reference to any new social or community infrastructure to support these new  residents in the LDF strategy.

Rydon/A2Dominion/Conran ran a public exhibition of its GMLE design ideas in Jubilee Hall on GMLE on Friday evening 9th October 2009and Saturday afternoon 10th October 2009. Rydon also presented these same ideas to WEN on 6th October, 2009.

Police’s ‘Secured By Design’ Initiative Lead to Design Change
The overall design has changed dramatically. The big sweeping, open crescent design of May 2009 is now replaced by three, closed, square blocks with open space in the middle of them. It was admitted that this re-design was heavily influenced by the Police ‘Secured By Design’ initiative , which aims to design out crime. So instead of property developers or Council Housing Officers driving housing estate design we now have the Police driving the design!

Pretty much all of the deficiences listed at the beginning of this article are still missing. Could-be shopper parking has re-appeared along the south side of Singapore Road.

Conran had a further on-site meeting with GMLE residents on 29th October 2009.

WEN met with the Council and others on 17th December 2009 to discover the latest state of play with regards the design of the new development. No representatives from A2Dominion (A2D) or Rydon turned up to the meeting.

Improvements to the three prison block design have been introduced. A wide snaking path now runs from the south west corner to the north east corner and this, importantly, opens up the whole central grassed area of the middle prison block of homes. 32 Allotments are now planned for the western third of the 8.5 acre development. Dean Hall looks like it will be demolished. No play facilities for children are planned but the playground at neighbouring St John’s School will have a large ‘Enhanced Multi Use Games Area’ (MUGA) plonked in the middle of it. Access by the public to this MUGA outside school hours will have to be managed by A2D – but details on this were not available. 40 homes in the north west of the development are designated as ‘older people housing’. There are nine ‘business’ units  drawn on the draft plan on the south side along with an Energy Centre, Gym and Community Cafe.

Housing Needs Survey Drives 95 Tenants Off the Estate
A housing needs survey revealed that some 95 tenants who need single bedroom homes will not find them on the new GMLE and they will have to be decanted to A2D homes throughout SE England. A parking needs survey revealed that there are 75 car parking spaces currently in use at GMLE for shoppers. The new development will create  75 new shopper car parking spaces.

No attempt has been made to accommodate the increasing needs of the hundreds of worshippers at the Islamic Centre/West London Mosque to be. A Rydon survey concluded that it would be too hard (too expensive?) to ‘improve ‘ the south side of Singapore Road. No obvious attempt has been made for the development to be integrated in any meaningful way with West Ealing centre.

WEN asked for the new road name ‘The Avenue’ on the plan to be changed as we already have  such a road name half a mile away – and we have had it for over 100 years.

There is still no sign whatsoever of any retail, law and order, healthcare or educational provision for the 2,500+ people who might eventually inhabit the new GMLE. No attempt has been made to ameliorate the regular road rage immediately to the north on the congested Alexandria and Felix Roads.

WEN took A2D, Rydon and Ealing Council to task for trumpeting the redevelopment of GMLE as a certainty. A Planning Application has still to be approved, and, as ever (as per Arcadia) the granting of planning permission is by no means a certainty. As such  this publicity constitutes reckless behaviour.

The GMLE web site created by A2D/Rydon/Conran in September 2009 was infrequently updated and emails sent to it have never been replied to. WEN questioned the reasons for its existence if it is not to be supported or maintained. On its Home Page on 8 March 2010 it was still displaying a sketch of the overall estate design which had been replaced months and months ago. As of 5th May 2010 its ‘Latest News’ item was dated in early April

Planning Applications Published

Two Planning Applications were announced by Ealing Council in letters to WEN dated 17th February, 2010. One is an Outline Planning Application for the whole development (PA/2010/0419), and the other is for Phase 1 ie the demolition and development of the south western quarter of the 8.5 acre site (about one sixth of the total area) – PA/2010/0418. Just 42 days were allowed for Public Consultation. Ealing Council maintains that it has to decide these proposals by the 10th of May 2010.

WEN was not happy about many aspects of the plans and has written to Ealing Council detailing these objections. Many of the objections are consistent with the reservations we first articulated in public and on this web site three years ago.

On 24th March 2010 WEN ran a public meeting on the GMLE plans. Rydon and A2Dominion attended and made genuine attempts to explain and describe how they were responding to Ealing Council’s brief. Ealing Council declined WEN’s invitation to attend the meeting.

On 14 April, 2010 A2Dominion ran a GMLE Community meeting in Jubilee Hall to discuss parking arrangements in the new GMLE. Each new home will not have a car parking space by right. Car parking spaces will be on sale for £10,000 each.

On 21 April 2010, WEN heard through the grapevine that CABE, GLA and others had objected to the height of the tower blocks on the southern extremity of the development. Rydon/A2Dominion are rumoured to be preparing a new/revised Planning Application  which will reduce the height of this flat block and no doubt increase the height of another tower block(s).

As is obvious from the PAs submitted, there will not be enough car parking spaces along the lines of one per resident. A2D announced publicly in April 2010 that residents would be able to purchase a car parking space for £10,000. Clearly such a price is way beyond the means of the residents in the new 334 Affordable Rent homes.

Valuations and Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) ‘offers’ to the up to 73 private GMLE home owners came to light in late April 2010. One bedroom flats appear to be valued by Ealing Council at £120,000. It’s unlikely that anyone thrown out of their own one bedroom GMLE flat would be able to find a one bedroom flat for sale in the immediate vicinity for less than £180,000.

Planning Applications Revised
On 5 July 2010 revised PAs were published by Ealing Council. The changes are not major and were driven by comments from the GLA and CABE. 706 homes will now be built not 721. The deadline for comments is 23 July. Rumour had it that Rydon/A2Dominion didn’t expect to get Planning Permission till September, 2010.

Planning Permission is Granted – 1 September, 2010
At the 1 September, 2010 Ealing Council Planning Committee Meeting both the Phase 1 and the Outline Planning proposals were unanimously approved. The Councillors who voted were:

Panel Chair, Karam Mohan (Labour) Lady Margaret
Nigel Bakhai (Lib Dem) Elthorne
Will Brooks (Conservative) Greenford Green
Johanna Dabrowska (Conservative) Ealing Common
Tejinda Singh Dhami (Labour) Dormers Wells
Shital Manro (Labour) North Greenford
Tim Murtagh (Labour) Greenford Broadway
Ian Potts (Conservative) Ealing Broadway
Edward Rennie (Labour) Perivale

The meeting (much like the Arcadia and Dickens Yard ones) was run by Ealing’s Planning Supremo Aileen Jones. As you can see from the list above only one Councillor had any local knowledge of GMLE – Nigel Bakhai.

No-one seriously spoke against the proposals except WEN. Eric Leach’s 3 minute WEN speach transcript can be found on the ‘Green Man’ web page on this web site.

Councillor Potts attacked the WEN speech by arguing that Housing Associations (like A2Dominion) were charities and not private companies as Eric Leach had stated. Of course he’s wrong but I wasn’t allowed to speak up and correct him. None of the 20 or so Councillors and senior Council Officers in the Chamber who could speak up did speak up. One can only presume that they all think Housing Associations are public bodies. A2Dominion is certainly not a registered charity.

Councillor Brooks also attacked Eric Leach personally by saying that as I lived in a big house I couldn’t appreciate life in a run-down GMLE home.

It appears that the new site owners – A2Dominion – will receive £13 million from National
Government which they must spend on building ‘Affordable Homes’ in the Phase 1 scheme.

A2Dominion and Rydon to Give Ealing Council £1,045,764 for Granting Them Planning Permission
In an agreement signed on 30 September 2010, A2Dominion and Rydon agreed to pay Ealing Council over £1 million to offset the external effects of the £137 million development of the new GMLE. In Planning jargon this is Section 106 money.

In summary the payments will be:
Allotments: £7,000
Education: £327,264
Healthcare:  £190,000
Jacob’s Ladder Footbridge:  £20,000
Older Children Play Facilities:  £80,000
Parks, Public Open Space and Playspace:  £276,500
Public Realm:  £100,000
Transport Network Improvements:  £100,000

As well as this, A2Dominion/Rydon have agreed to create and install a Public Work of Art to the value of £125,000. The artist selection process and full details of the scheme must be submitted by early 2012 and the creation must be installed (or a fine of £125,000 incurred) by around 2017. The creative work needn’t be installed in the new GMLE and could be installed close by.

There is also a £100,000 contribution to employment training ‘in default of provision of Enterprise Units prior to occupation of Phase 3’. Make of this what you will.

Very little of this money will be paid over immediately. The £7,000 Allotments payment should have been paid quickly as it’s supposed to be paid before the commencement of the development. After countless attempts in March and April 2011 to discover if, when and where this Allotments money has been spent WEN has been unsuccessful. It appears that Ealing Council do not publish data on when and where Section 106 money is actually spent.

Incredibly this money as well as the money for education and healthcare does not have to be spent locally. Ealing Council has agreed that THE MONEY CAN BE SPENT ANYWHERE IN THE BOROUGH. One wonders just how such arrangement could be legal or rational.

Most of the payments are paid in four payments over the eight year (?) life of the project. However the payment for Jacob’s Ladder will be at the end of the construction project (2019?) The payment includes much needed painting of the bridge and a new lighting system. The latter seems a bit odd as a new lighting system was installed in 2012 and not paid for with the GMLE S106 monies.

Community Cafe
As part of Phase 1 of the development is the creation of a Community Cafe.

In April 2010, A2Dominon announced that they were looking for 10 – 15 people from GMLE and surrounding areas to form a group which would work on identifying funding, staffing, resourcing and creating a business plan. WEN immediately applied in writing to join this group.

Six months passed and there was no response from A2Dominion. When subsequently pressed they admitted that no-one living on GMLE had expressed any interest in joining this group and that WEN were the only people to volunteer!

In many ways this is unsurprising. The existing 73 flat owners are being removed from GMLE by Compulsory Purchase Orders. 95 tenants in one bedded flats are being thrown off the estate and re-located elsewhere by A2Dominion; and the 306 new owners are unknown at this point as their new homes have not yet been built. Of the other tenants some of them face the prospect of being temporarily rehoused for a year whilst thei

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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