Would like Northfields to become a new Conservation Area? Give your views to the council

Some local residents have put forward a proposal for Northfields to become a new Conservation Area.

The reasoning behind the proposal is that: 

  • Northfields is historically important. It embodies the evolution of Ealing – from its early rural past to its rapid transition in the later 19th/early 20th centuries into a thriving London suburb.
  • Northfields has retained much of its character, with tree-lined streets, largely intact front gardens, and houses and shops with a wide variety of interesting architectural features.
  • However, Northfields is under threat from excessive and unsympathetic development as shown the by the success of recent planning applications, e.g. for Orion Park.
  • Conservation Area status would help to preserve Northfields’ human scale and make it more difficult for developers to destroy its special character.

The Council is now consulting on the proposal. Their consultation document includes a number of questions. The most important ones are whether people favour the creation of a Northfields CA, and, if so, where the boundary should be drawn. 
The proposers are trying to get as many people as possible to take part, so please do take a few minutes to give your views.
The Council has asked that responses to the consultation should be via email to localplan@ealing.gov.uk. As an alternative, they ha ve provided a postal address as follows:
Strategic Planning Economic Growth Division Place Directorate 4th Floor Perceval House14-16 Uxbridge RoadEaling W5 2HL
The consultation closes on Friday, March 18.

Petition launched to save Gurnell Leisure Centre

West Ealing Neighbours received this email from the Save Gurnell group with details of a petition it has launched to save Gurnell Leisure Centre. This follows the Council’s failed attempt to redevelop this site. See here for the background story.

The Gurnell Leisure Centre has now been closed since March 2020 – that’s nearly two years without our much loved and much needed facility.  To raise awareness of this issue, the Save Gurnell campaign team have started a petition to the Mayor of London seeking his assistance. Click here to sign the petition.

Gyms and leisure centres play a key role in helping people to be active and they will be crucial in our nation’s recovery from coronavirus, in addition to providing wider health, wellbeing, and community benefits. The current position is totally unacceptable.

Since the planning application was refused in March 2021, there has been a distinct lack of communication from the new leadership team at Ealing Council.  That’s why we have started a petition to the Mayor of London, asking him to step in and assist as he has with the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace.We would appreciate it if you could forward this update and petition to your members. Please don’t let Gurnell go the same way as Ealing Cinema.

Too little too late? Council puts forward its views on tall buildings

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?

As part of draawing up its new local plan, Ealing Council has published a position statement on tall buildings. It has also released a video about its tall building policy.

The Ealing Today website has a detailed article about this with comments from Stop The Towers and others.

There is also a new Council survey asking for your views about how you feel about your local area.

Manor Road tall tower – did the Council withhold crucial information?

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? 

With 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?
 
Ealing 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 deliberate ploy?
 
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.
 
Whilst 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 ruling.
 
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.

 
Thanks again for your help and support.
 
Best regards

Stop The Towers’
www.stopthetowers.org

To donate click here
For posters click here

* Figures taken from Housing Delivery Tests published within LBE Interim Authority Monitoring Report Click here

** A Freedom of Information request has been made to Ealing Council asking them to reveal the amount awarded to cover the developers costs in full.

North Acton – beyond all recognition

One Portal Way, North Acton

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 planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.uk.  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 your comments 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.

For more information about the work of the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, visit our website at www.oldoakneighbourhoodforum.org.  If not already a member you are welcome to join by emailing oonforum@gmail.com

Best wishes and thanks for your help’ 

Henry Peterson–

on behalf of the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum

It’s all about the cucumbers! LAGER Can – helping clean West Ealing’s streets

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.

Overdevelopment threat to Hanwell Arts & Crafts house

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 overdevelop the 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.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE:

  • The two 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
  • The Hanwell 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

ACTION NEEDED:

Please go to: https:///pam.ealing.gov.uk/online-applications/ and search for 216269FUL.  You can view the ‘Documents’ tab and object on the ‘Comments’ tab.  The deadline is Wednesday 8 DECEMBER 2021.

Contact jeanetteanngrose@yahoo.co.uk for any queries. Thank you – your help is really appreciated!

Let’s get West Ealing library back at the centre of our community

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 westealingcommunitylibrary@ehcvs.org.uk 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 bookings@ehcvs.org.uk.

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 westealingcommunitylibrary@ehcvs.org.uk.

We look forward to welcoming more of you back in the library and getting the community fully involved!”