eric's daily blog - a very personal view of the arcadia public inquiry

Ealing Local Development Framework (LDF) 2010 Public Consultation

August 18, 2010
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1. The Wrong Plan at the Wrong Time

The LDF plans are yet again all about home building. S106 and Planning Gain monies extracted from residential property developers have never, and will never, provide adequate finance to provide the education, healthcare and law and order resources to support the new incoming residents.

So one of the net results of adding 35,000 new residents in 14,700  new homes will be to swamp and degrade the existing social and community services for existing residents. This is unacceptable to Ealing rate payers.

Ealing is seemingly not penalised for failing to meet its London Plan housing targets. In 2009/10 it will massively miss its targets and it predicts it will similarly fail in 2010/11:

Year             London Plan Target           Actually Built/To be Built

2009/10           848                                  298

2010/11           848                                  306

(Source: Ealing Council Annual Monitoring Report 2009)

National Government finances are in a shambles (National Debt at £944 billion and the current Annual Budget Deficit at £167.9 billion). So National Government is unlikely to stump up the required monies for new social and community facilities. Even more damning is the possibility that the Housing Association charities like A2Dominion, Genesis, Catalyst, and Notting Hill Housing Trust can no longer expect to receive the tens of £millions annual handouts from National Government for home building.

All these home building plans are not wanted by Ealing rate payers; are unlikely ever to come to fruition; and constitute a waste of all our time and money formulating and discussing them.

2. Residents’ 2009 Feedback Ignored

In 2009 Ealing Council carried out Public Consultation on its Draft LDF Core Strategy. The key thrust of the 300+ pages was to build 14,700 new homes along the A40 and Uxbridge Road corridors by 2026. More specifically 10,000 new homes (let’s face it flats) were to be built 800 metres from Acton, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Southall Stations.

85% of the residents, and residents and community groups’ written responses to the strategy objected to this housing densification strategy.

On 20 July 2010 Ealing’s new Council Cabinet agreed a new set of Draft LDF Core Strategy documents. These documents contain the above densification strategy which the public roundly dismissed in 2009. Given this fact surely the planned 10 weeks of further public consultation is a waste of all our time and all our money. How can such an approach be logical, ethical or even legal?

The Leaders of the Council must be confronted with this reality as soon as possible

3. Single Audience Meetings

The 2007 LDF public meetings (albeit hosted by ECS and ECN) and the Council’s 2009 LDF public meetings ‘broke up’ rapidly in workshop based discussions. WEN chaired three of the workshops in 2007 and looking back at the WEN notes from three years ago none of the three workshop recommendations have been implemented.

There are big issues to debate concerning how land might or might not be used over the next 15 years. The Council’s proposals need to be debated in front of a single audience.

We should insist on single audience meetings this time around.

4. Review Hard Copy Documents in Advance – and Free

In the 2009 LDF public consultation it was difficult for residents to obtain hard copies of the documents in advance of the meetings. Outrageously residents had to pay for copies.

It is unreasonable to expect residents to down load and print out 300+ pages on their own PCs. Anyway not all the relevant documents are available for down load. No resident has as yet been able to down load probably the most important document ‘Infrastructure Delivery Plan, Appendix 1.’

5. Open Attendance at All Meetings

Some of the meetings scheduled (seven in all) are flagged as ‘Invitation Only’. This is an unacceptable part of a public consultation process.

6. Quality of Life is the Number 1 Issue for Ealing Residents

This fact is as lost in the current crop of land use (LDF) documents as it was in the 2007 and 2009 document sets. The asset management plans for Ealing of the Met Police, NHS and whoever runs Primary and Secondary State education should be contained in these documents and I’m 100% certain that they are absent.

The 2007, 2009 and 2010 Ealing LDF documents are all obsessed with building new homes in already heavily built-up areas. Building new homes is not one of the quality of life issues for the vast majority of Ealing residents. There is no room to build 10,000 homes in the Acton to Southall Uxbridge Road corridor – except in tower blocks. There is also no space to build the social and community facilities to support these new residents in this corridor – except in tower blocks. And residents don’t want more tower blocks.

For a country which could well be heading towards another recession and bankruptcy, whatever small amounts of money that can be made available locally for Ealing residents should be spent on maintaining our quality of life and possibly even enhancing it.

7. No Bespoke Meetings in Northolt, Perivale or West Ealing.

What will these towns be like in 2026? Although local meetings are planned for Ealing, Ealing town centre, Greenford, Acton, Southall and Hanwell why are there no local meetings scheduled in Northolt, Perivale or West Ealing?

8. No Bespoke Meeting for Elderly Residents

It’s pleasing to see a bespoke meeting will be arranged for young people. But what about elderly people? There are currently more people over 60 than are under 16 years old in the UK. Of those over 60 the fastest growing group are the over 85s. By 2034 5% of the total UK population will be over 85. So why is there not a bespoke meeting for elderly people?

9. ‘Developer’s Forum’

To involve property developers in a draft LDF development strategy public consultation seems utterly bizarre. One might construe its existence as complete arrogance on the part of the Council that it will go ahead with the draft plans in spite of what Ealing residents think. Alternatively is it really possible that developer feedback would cause the Council to change its plans to suit the precise needs of the developers?

The Government Says ‘NO’ to Glenkerrin’s Arcadia Ealing Centre Planning Application

December 15, 2009
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West Ealing Neighbours

Press Release

Tuesday 8th December, 2009

The Government’s Communities Secretary John Denham MP announced today that the Government has refused the Glenkerrin (UK) Ltd Arcadia Planning Application for the centre of Ealing. The application was refused on many grounds which included development plan, design principles, Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, Housing, Planning Conditions and Planning Obligations. In strictly national planning guidelines, the application did not meet the conditions detailed in PPS1, PPS3 and PPG 15.

What will now not be built overlooking Ealing Broadway Station and Haven Green are 567 flats and 37 shops in 7 tower blocks rising to 26 storeys.

The Secretary of State’s decision is in response to the Government’s ‘Calling In’ the Planning Application on 30th January, 2009 and a very combative Public Inquiry which took place in Ealing Town Hall from 23rd June to 9th July, 2009. The major opposers at the inquiry were SEC (see below), Ealing Civic Society and Ealing Conservation Area Panels. The UK’s pre-eminent Town Planner and Ealing resident Professor Sir Peter Hall  spoke elegantly against the plans at the inquiry. Tom Cross was the opponents’ barrister and his good work is to be applauded. Tom is now a first  Judicial Assistant at the UK’s new Supreme Court.

At the inquiry global architectural guru and Glenkerrin’s Townscape and Heritage expert Professor Robert Tavernor called the Arcadia plans ‘great architecture’. This decision seriously discredits him. Planning Barrister Russell Harris QC – one of the UK’s pre-eminent planning lawyers and a member of the board of CABE – who described many of the opposers’ contentions as ‘wrong’, ‘misplaced’ and ‘wrong headed’ – has proved to be an expensive failure for Glenkerrin. Peter Smith of Ealing BID, TVU along with some prominent local business owners also supported the application at the inquiry.

It’s rumoured that Glenkerrin and Ealing Council’s costs incurred to fight and lose this inquiry reached £7 million.

This decision must be a huge embarrassment to Ealing Council, especially for the very public supporters of the Arcadia scheme who include senior Council Officers Brendon Walsh (Regeneration) and Aileen Jones (Planning). Some of the senior elected Members who supported the application include Council Cabinet Councillors Brooks (Housing), Millican (Regeneration) and Taylor (Customer and Community Services).

Elected Members deserving of credit for publicly opposing the scheme include Councillors Ball, Chapman, Dabrowska, Greenhead and Young. Ealing North MP Steve Pound also opposed the application. The decision is a huge victory for the thousands of Ealing residents who didn’t want Arcadia. It is also a massive victory for the Save Ealing’s Centre (SEC) alliance of 26 Ealing community and residents’ groups. SEC alliance members fought tirelessly against this scheme for over two years. They and other residents have spent thousands of pounds of their own money to help save Ealing’s centre. WEN is a founder member of SEC.

What is now needed is for all Ealing centre stakeholders to get together and work together to sensibly plan the development of Ealing centre. This work could and should dovetail with Ealing Council’s LDF initiatives, but as yet this has not been the case. A good place to start would be SEC’s Vision for the centre. This Vision mandates the design and implementation of an integrated transport hub based around Ealing Broadway Station as a pre-cursor to any other spatial development in the centre. See

As for Glenkerrin (UK) Ltd, one wonders what they might do next with their £40 million properties and property options ‘investment’ in the centre of Ealing. Maybe they will re-open the old BBC car park which they own and which has lain derelict for years. Given that their last publicly available financial figures (for 2008) show them running a deficit of liabilities over assets of over £16 million, they may well need the cash.

About The Downfall of Arcadia

Glenkerrin (UK) Ltd submitted the original Planning Application (P/2007/4246) in September 2007. Ealing Council granted the application at a controversial Planning Committee Panel meeting on 17th December 2008. The elected Members who made this decision were Councillors Ahmed, Aslam, Bagha, Crawford, Gupta, Ashok Kapoor, Rosa and John Popham, and Ross. Residents may choose to take this in to account at next May’s local elections. London Mayor Boris Johnson ‘blessed’ Ealing Council’s decision on 21st January 2009.

SEC organised two huge public meetings to discuss saving Ealing’s centre – each attended by hundreds of residents – on 29th November 2007 and on 20th January 2009.

On 2nd December 2008 SEC Chair Will French and WEN Vice-Chair Eric Leach attended a surgery in Northolt conducted by Ealing North MP Steve Pound. At this meeting Steve Pound learnt the facts about the Arcadia Planning Application and residents’ objections to it. Steve subsequently met up with the Government’s Communities Secretary (at that time Hazel Blears MP) to discuss the application. Hazel Blears called in the application on 30th January, 2009.

A blow by blow account of the Arcadia Public Inquiry – including a transcript of Professor Sir Peter Hall’s tour de force – can be found on the ‘Arcadia Inquiry’ page at

Copies of the Arcadia Public Inquiry opponents’ Proofs of Evidence documents can be viewed at


CABE: The Government’s architectural advisors
Ealing BID: Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are companies which charge levies on local businesses and use the revenue collected to improve the ‘trading environment’ in a particular area. BIDs are a Government initiative introduced in The Local Government Act 2003
SEC: Save Ealing’s Centre was formed in November 2007 to fight the Arcadia Planning Application. Its 26 member organisations represent the interests of over 12,000 residents.
TVU: Thames Valley University
WEN: Formed in November 2005, West Ealing Neighbours is the first pan-W13 group of volunteers who are trying to improve the quality of life for residents, visitors and those who work in West Ealing.

For more information, please contact:
Eric Leach, Vice-Chair WEN
07836 275278

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Last day, Day 10: Thursday 9th July 2009

July 10, 2009

Now we are close to the end of the Inquiry itself, I look round at 12:15 pm and still see no sign of senior Ealing Council Regeneration policy holders and executives. At no time during the whole of this 10 day sitting have David Millican, the elected Ealing Council Cabinet Member portfolio holder for Regeneration, elected Cabinet Member portfolio holder for Housing Will Brooks or Mr Pat Hayes, Ealing Council Executive Director Regeneration and Housing made any sort of appearance at the Arcadia Public Inquiry. Surely this lack of interest or care constitutes dereliction of duty. Shame on these gentlemen.

The opposers’ summing up was carried out by our barrister Tom Cross. He reprised much of the SEC/ECS/Conservation Area Panels’ written and oral submissions. His contention was that the application should be rejected on many grounds namely too high density; huge plot ratios; inadequate amenity space; little Affordable Housing; no contribution to local social and network infrastructure; paucity of S106 money; additional  pressure on the already fragile local Policing, healthcare and education infrastructure; transport failings; and harmful shadowing onto Haven Green. He then moved on to concentrate on our major objection – that of townscape and heritage. To be brutally simplistic he said that this was the wrong development in the wrong place.

Ealing Council’s summing up was conducted by the occasionally ever so polite Morag Ellis QC. She felt that the Arcadia proposal ticked all the boxes and represented high quality design.

Glenkerrin’s mouthpiece Russell Harris QC spoke next for what seemed like a lifetime. He delivered his 62 page summing up at break-neck speed. His love affair with the Metropolitan Centre, the London Plan and the Saved portions of the Ealing UDP were paraded before us. His tour de force concentrated on his signature expert-based approach. He said that all aspects of the development were world class; all relevant planning guidelines had been adhered to; and that many of the opposers’ contentions were ‘wrong’, ‘misplaced’ or ‘wrong headed’. English Heritage’s written submission he dismissed as ‘incompetent’. He belittled amateur efforts by opposing residents. Thankfully he finished at 4:40pm.

Of course the elephant in the room at that point was that as guideline compliant as Arcadia might be, the vast majority of Ealing residents who had made their views known clearly did not want it.

The GLC some 40 years ago tried to foist tower blocks and a concrete retail centre on Ealing residents. The residents objected and the scheme was eventually thrown out. More recently Mayor Livingstone tried to foist a Tram on Ealing residents. The vast majority of Ealing residents who expressed an opinion said they didn’t want the Tram and after a four year struggle, and £38.4 million wasted, Ealing residents again got their way and the Tram was cancelled. We now ask the Inspector and the Secretary of State to listen carefully again to Ealing residents and consign the Arcadia proposals into the dustbin of history.

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Day 9: Tuesday 7th July 2009

July 8, 2009
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I discovered yesterday that Conditions and S106 are now going to be discussed this morning and not on Thursday morning. This appears on the surface to be a bit odd as those residents/interest groups who have registered to speak – on issues including the School, disability and transport issues (EPTUG) – will not yet have been heard.

At 9:00am sharp, the Inspector announced the recent appearance of two letters. One was from Ealing Fields residents’ group dated 21st June 2009 opposing the development, and the other was from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) commenting on the Arcadia planning application. The MPA letter to Ealing Planning Services dated 25 November 2008 was of great interest generally to all objectors and to me very specifically. I had lobbied hard in my Proof of Evidence for a Police Station on site. The MPA said ‘the provision of a safer neighbourhood team base with a front counter, located in an accessible and visible area is likely to enhance the vitality and viability of the area’.

The Conditions dialogue didn’t last too long. As there are 84 Conditions this was a comfort. The opposers were concerned that so many of the Conditions opened with ‘Notwithstanding the details submitted within the application’ it would allow the developer/Council combo to post-approval do their own thing. Glenkerrin’s mouthpiece Austin Harris QC quoted two recent Secretary of State call-ins in which this form of words had been acceptable. Audience numbers were in single figures at 9:00am but rose to over 25 by 10:00am and then stayed around that level and above all day.

There was little further discussion on Section 106 issues. Mr Austin pointed out that many of the S106 monies were paid 50% up front and the balance after 300 flats had been built (occupied perhaps).

Councillor Phil Taylor was next to speak. He supports the application. His Ward is Northfields. He said his constituents were largely unconcerned with Arcadia. He thought the big plus was that 79 families would be housed in Affordable Housing on the site. He tore a strip of Professor Sir Peter Hall for his not being able to see the bigger picture. Mr Taylor thought Crossrail was the key factor. We‘d all like a smaller building, but life’s a compromise – he said.

Mr Engler, a local construction engineer, opposed the development and he cited pollution, traffic congestion, and the likely failure of the retail offering as his main concerns.

Mark Sheard was up next. He is Chair of Governors of Christ Church School. He delivered an impassioned speech which detailed governors, staff and parents opposition to the application. He quoted in detail their objections with regard to inappropriate traffic management, adverse environmental impacts, child protection and poor disabled access. They also believe that the process leading to the submission and approval of the plans was at very best inadequate. He chided Ealing Council’s Brendon Walsh for claiming that the Arcadia application had the support of the diocesan Bishop and church land owners. They had not expressed any support for the application he said. He finally expressed his astonishment that Ealing Council should be pressing the school on the one hand to somehow increase its pupil numbers by 33% by 2012 in a spatially very restricted area and yet simultaneously approve planning application for flats and shops just 20 feet away. Why there was no co-operation between the developer, the Council and the school to fit the school expansion into the overall scheme is totally beyond him.

Local resident John Hummerston spoke next, As chair of Ealing Arts and Leisure he bemoaned the paucity of arts facilities in Ealing town centre and traced the history of  Ealing Council’s support in demonstrating the need for such facilities. However successive Councils, for over 16 years, had failed to come up with a master plan for Ealing centre and consequently failed to produce a cultural component of this. The Applicant’s health club ‘cultural’ S106 contribution was just a hopeless gesture he said. Other London boroughs had gained arts centres as part of Planning Gain – Tally Ho in North Finchley being an obvious example – so why not Ealing? Tarting up the Town Hall as an arts centre was also not a viable solution he said.

Ms Warner spoke next. She lives in Haven Green and she found many parts of the Arcadia application wanting. We need an appropriate re-development of the site she pleaded, but this application is not it.

Sue New spoke next. She has worked and lived in Ealing for many years. Sue is registered disabled. The Applicant’s expert witness Professor Tavernor came in for some criticism by Sue. Mr Tavernor had quoted from the writings of Jane Jacobs. Given that one of Ms Jacobs’ recognised mantras is ‘ listen and reflect local views’ Glenkerrin’s Arcadia project has just not done this at all. She also quoted from the works of Oscar Newman in bemoaning the lack of ‘defensible space’ for flat dwellers. She emphasised the complete unsuitability of tall buildings for family occupation. The steps in the public realm and platform lifts are not attractive options for the disabled, the blind, the elderly or for those in buggies. Finally she pleaded that Ealing had been built on a human scale and that this development would destroy it.

An ex-law Lecturer and local resident – Ms Fernough – spoke next and she very eloquently slammed many aspects of the application. She was unhappy with the shade and gloom the towers would inflict; the inadequate car parking arrangements; the retail offering – will residents and visitors actually shop here; and accommodation affordable to who actually? What was needed was a strong leisure offering in the town centre, and a safe and attractive daytime and evening environment. We don’t have that now and Glenkerrin’s Arcadia won’t deliver it either she concluded.

Pauline Mason, Chair of Ealing Village Residents’ Association, spoke next. She represents some 400 people who live in the Grade II listed 1930s Dutch Colonial Baroque style estate 250 yards due east of Arcadia. She said that Arcadia would directly and negatively impact her village and quality of life. Block F will overlook the village and overlook the flats, grounds, clubhouse and swimming pool – breaching the listed status and residents’ right to privacy.

Ealing resident Pauline Gerosa was up next. She brought much needed levity to the proceeding by likening Block F to something one might find in an Ann Summers catalogue! She felt a better re-design of Ealing centre would be the creation of a pedestrian precinct and the re-routing of Uxbridge Road traffic to the north around Haven Green. What was needed, she said, to attract visitors to the centre was a mixed development of leisure, residential, commercial, and a conference centre/hotel.

Corinne Templer spoke next. She described herself as the dinosaur in the room. An Ealing resident for almost 50 years, she fought at a Public Inquiry in this very same room 30 years ago when property developers came to Ealing with completely insensitive tower block and concrete retail centre proposals. That Inquiry took five weeks and the developer lost. What finally emerged in 1985, when the Queen opened Ealing Broadway Centre, was a retail centre designed in sympathy with the red brick, Victorian/Edwardian residential heritage.

The Mayor’s Ealing Metropolitan Centre concept was fatally flawed she said – just as its predecessor GLC Ealing Strategic Centre concept from the 1960s was flawed. Ealing town centre and West Ealing town centre are very different communities; they act independently; are not even spatially adjacent; and are separated by a significant office alley.

She traced the history of the Dickens Yard sell off going back to 2004; along with the various Glenkerrin ‘offerings’. Corinne was the progenitor of Save Ealing’s Centre (SEC) which came into being to fight Glenkerrin’s Leaf development in late 2007. SEC – 26 local residents’ and community groups working together – has lead the fight against inappropriate town centre developments ever since. 1,000s of residents have written objecting to Arcadia on four separate occasions. It appears that very few substantive support letters have ever been submitted. The 17th December 2008 Ealing Council Planning Committee meeting which approved Arcadia involved no public debate and a shocked local residents’ audience was appalled.

She described the Arcadia plans as unimaginative and bland, a gross over development, and featuring an ugly tower. We need quirkiness and humanity to return to Ealing centre she said. SEC represents the views of over 12,000 Ealing residents. 350 residents have given donations ranging from £5 to £1,000 to pay SEC’s legal costs. This shows the depth and width of support – and it’s not just town centre residents who have given and continue to give. She urged the Inspector to follow the lead of his colleague 30 years ago and recommend refusal of this application.

Applause was inevitable and fulsome.

Simon Rowley spoke next. He is co-founder of Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group (EPTUG) in 2001. He also lives close by to the Arcadia site. He said that EPTUG objects to Arcadia because it has missed opportunities to improve transport, and if it goes ahead , it will probably serve to prevent the improvements we are looking for from ever happening. These lost opportunities are prevention of railway expansion, making a transport interchange, and providing safer access to Ealing Broadway Station.

Sian Vasey was the next speaker. She is Director of the Ealing Centre for Independent Living, which represents the interests of mobility impaired people. She is registered disabled. She pointed out that there are 27,000 registered disabled residents in Ealing. New developments need to design-in facilities for the disabled. Uxbridge’s Chimes and White City’s Westfield has done this. Arcadia does not do this. She then proceeded to describe in some detail how variously the design and location of steps, lifts, disabled parking bays, and disabled toilets in the application were seriously wanting.

Central Ealing Residents Association (CERA) presented next. Julian Edmunds described the planning process and the proposal itself as fatally flawed. CERA finds the massive cost of building huge structures over the railway unacceptable, and the scale and density of the development a price not worth paying. On the retail front residents want a supermarket and a major ‘comparison goods’ store (John Lewis, Debenhams) and individual/independent shops. Arcadia will provide none of these.  Damage to Haven Green would be significant. It would be walled in to the south; its spaciousness eliminated; ringed by yet more traffic; suffer raised levels of pollution; and be overshadowed by day and polluted by light at night.

 CERA’s John Rhodes then took over. The major feature of his presentation was a very visual representation of year-round, substantial shadowing of Haven Green post Arcadia – which could be found nowhere in the Arcadia proposal. Further Mr Rhodes demonstrated that the Arcadia shadowing plans for Spring and Autumn are misleading and the extent of shadowing has been misrepresented. Glenkerrin refused the opportunity to challenge Mr Rhodes’ evidence, which presumably meant that they did not dispute it.

Bill Soper of CERA was up next. As both a qualified and practising architect and town planner of many years standing his comments on the Arcadia plans carried some natural authority. He questioned the ‘authenticity’ of some of Professor Tavernor’s computer enhanced Arcadia-added pictures. He questioned various Arcadia daylight measurements. His assertion that the space between the high-rise towers in some places was as narrow as 14.5 meters drew gasps from the audience. He quoted the relevant space gap standard as being 21 metres. He explained how the north facing residential tower dwellers will not enjoy any daylight in their living rooms. He also was certain that the Fire Service would have difficulty in signing off the development with regards to Building Regulations.

Anthony Harris QC fulminated about just a few of these points, catching Bill out on details in documents he hadn’t seen. He was positively triumphant is telling us all that the Fire Service had ‘signed off’ the planning application. Subsequently it became obvious that Bill’s Fire Service point was about Building Regulations and not the planning application itself. Significantly Mr Harris did not challenge Bill’s evidence on the accuracy of many of the submitted Arcadia skyline views or on the worrying failure in meeting minimum space distances between tower blocks.

Councillor Anthony Young spoke next. He’s an Ealing Broadway Conservative Ward Councillor and has been so for an incredible 30 years. He opposes the planning application. His concerns are the effect on Haven Green; the need for more open space (but where); the flawed retail offering (the boarded up new Daniels would-be department store can’t be ignored); and the educational impact in an area with an ever increasing baby population.

Walpole Residents’ Association Chair Patrick Chapman was up next. He delivered an emotional speech. He said in essence that the planning brief for the site was all about regeneration. However the proposal fails to meet this simple requirement and 1,000s of local stakeholders can see this, but have been ignored.

 Local resident and internationally acclaimed documentary film maker Tony Palmer was up next. He immediately launched into an acclamation of Russell Harris QC’s achievements and star status. He correctly identified Mr Harris as the public face of Glenkerrin at this and other Public Inquiries. This found much favour with much of the regular attendees at the Inquiry as we’d all watched over many days of the Inquiry Sean O’Gorman Glenkerrin’s UK boss shuffle in; sit at the back of his pack of consultants and Ealing Council ‘partners’; checking his emails on his laptop; and taking no public part in the proceedings.

Tony then launched into an attack on Mr Harris by revealing the somewhat shocking fact that Mr Harris sits on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. (CABE). As Mr Harris had many times during the Inquiry gone to great lengths to extol the virtues of CABE’s support for the application – but at no time revealing his ‘interest’ in CABE – his credibility, for me and others, hit an all time low.

Mr Palmer warmed to his subject and took Mr Harris to task yet again on the subject of a Norman Foster tower block designed specifically for Ealing. Tony said that he knew that Ealing was the FOURTH place in the world that this tower had been ‘sold’ too – the other three had turned it down. Mr Harris at no time refuted this fact. Tony said that Foster’s should be ashamed of themselves and that Russell Harris QC should also be ashamed. At this point the Inspector warned Tony that his comments were too personal in nature and that he should tone them down. Tony said he’d try. (We had this same Inspector intervention two more times).

Tony then delivered a passionate denunciation of retail based regeneration, saying it’s not working elsewhere and it won’t work here. Ealing Council is touting Arcadia as the only show in town and that the world will end if Arcadia doesn’t go ahead. But where’s the reasons for people to come to the centre? Where’s the cinema, concert hall, conference centre, and hotel? We have some of the best orchestras and choirs in the country but these folks have nowhere locally to rehearse in or perform in. Ealing deserves better he demanded.

£5,000 S106 for some public art is a joke he said. Look at what Newcastle has done with its new arts centre and museum. Look at the new concert hall as part of the removal of the 1950s Bullring in Birmingham. The Sydney local authority didn’t want the Sydney Opera House – it was residents that demanded it and now it’s world famous.

Network Rail say that Ealing Broadway Station (EBS) is the third worst rail station in the country. Would Brunel have settled for the dump that EBS currently is?  Crossrail is only about the railway. We need some imagination in repurposing the whole transport hub. Look at the stunning remodelling of St Pancras, Westminster tube station and Tottenham Court Road tube station. Why can’t we have similar innovation here in Ealing? Ealing Council haven’t even appointed someone to liaise with Network Rail with regards EBS redevelopment.

Refuse this application; seize the chance; and give alternative ideas a chance – he concluded.

Clapping and cheering immediately followed and was sustained.

Then up popped Councillor Potts another Conservative Ealing Broadway Councillor and Chair no less of Ealing Council Planning Committee. I’d not seen him before at the Inquiry. He launched into a tirade about how he’d voted against the application and that the planning application process had been above board and ‘legal’. This was met with mostly a stunned silence. Mr Potts decided to keep the reasons for his objection to Arcadia a secret – as he had done for the last six months. Patrick Chapmann stood up to respond to Mr Potts but the Inspector was having none of it as this ‘process’ debate was not within the scope of the Public Inquiry.

The Inspector then finalised his arrangements for accompanied and unaccompanied walks around the town centre on Wednesday. We all re-convene again at 12:15 pm on Thursday for final statements, Conditions nitty gritty and Section 106 sign-off.


Posted in regeneration

Day 8: Friday 3rd July 2009

July 4, 2009
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An even earlier start again today – at 9:00am. I suspect that the Applicant’s QCs have other residents to fry somewhere else next week and want to get on to their next lucrative cases. Maybe we’ll be starting at 8:00am come Thursday next week.

Now some words of praise for the Government Inspector David Richards. Under some prevarication from all sides at times he has shown a cool, fair head under fire. I have not heard a bad word spoken against him by anyone and he has of course that oh so vital human spark – a well developed sense of humour.

The grilling of James Guest on Retail Issues by Glenkerrin’s QC continued in the Welshman’s relentless obsessive, compulsive head-down style. In a none too pleasant spectacle to watch, Russell Harris quite rudely bullied, interrupted and bludgeoned James with his now well known expert-based approach. He rightly pointed out that James was not a retail expert, which was not surprising as James had explicitly admitted that right at the beginning. The QC paraded expositions from retail experts AV Grimley, Experian and Jones Laing Le Salle.

James’ contention is that selective use has been made of the retail projections in order to justify the increase of retail on the Arcadia site. The retail data being used by the Applicant is now 18 months old and the survey itself (the West London Retail Needs Study) is flawed in that it is based in a number of overly optimistic assumptions.

A highlight for me in the Howitzer and Mortar exchanges was when the QC gave James the chance to identify Philip Green’s retailers – six of them – who were examples or retailers fleeing from the centre of Ealing. Mr Harris bragged that one of his experts said retailers were queuing up to come to Ealing Arcadia. Strangely though he couldn’t name one of them.

The country’s most eminent Town Planner – Professor Sir Peter Hall – appeared next in opposition to Arcadia. This for me was the pivotal presentation at the whole Inquiry. In a stunning address he said Arcadia ‘would fatally and permanently compromise the built quality of one of the most remarkable suburban environments to be found anywhere in England.’ Two other gems were:

‘There can be no doubt that right across these areas the scale of the Glenkerrin development, above all the height of the towers, would impinge almost everything as a kind of visual shock, destroying at a stroke the scale and massing of the houses and their relation to the streets, and the Arcadian calm that is the entire area’s quintessential quality. To put it succinctly, even starkly, this development would destroy the essence of what Ealing is’.

‘Thus the basic problem with the proposal under consideration, I would submit, is that it starts from the wrong premise, proceeding through a perverse logic, to a fundamentally mistaken solution’.

The round of applause at the end of this presentation was the loudest and longest so far.

Sir Peter’s paper is from my perspective the most important paper presented at the Inquiry so far. It can now be seen in full on WENs website.

Peter Smith was next up. Poor man. Even JFK or Obama would have struggled to top Sir Peter. And mere Peter didn’t. As a former owner of the existing Arcadia Centre (not that he mentioned this) he spoke in favour of the proposals. He is the boss of The Business Improvement District (BID) company, which comprises a group of central Ealing retailers. What he also just forgot to tell us all is that 40% of all the BID companies are owned or directly controlled by Glenkerrin. There is nothing inherently wrong with conflict of interest or bias – the error is always when people don’t declare and explain that interest or bias.

Conservative Walpole Ward Councillor Ann Chapman spoke next. Walople is one of the five inner area Ealing Wards. She very eloquently, I thought, listed and explained the objections that 100s of her Ward constituents had delivered to her and the Council.

She was followed by Labour Councillor Phil Greenhead of Hobbayne Ward in Hanwell – the town you come to when traversing west from Arcadia after passing through West Ealing. This again was a measured but also passionate speech. She quite rightly highlighted the chronic housing needs and shortages throughout Ealing; the paucity of social housing these proposals contained; and the urban degradation, which was likely should Arcadia be built.

Local resident Colin Bradbury was next up. He is an ex-Professor of Clarinet at the Royal College of Music. He regaled us with details on our many fine amateur orchestras and choirs. But to our eternal shame Ealing provides no even adequate musical rehearsal or performance facilities he said. He ridiculed Morag Ellis QC’s advocacy of St Barnabas Church in Pitshanger as a performance venue by stating that even Paddington Station would be clearly a superior venue. The St Barnabas Church acoustics are appalling – the musicians themselves can’t hear what they are playing! As for performing in Ealing Town Hall, Mr Bradbury describes this as a joke and added that Victoria Hall as a music venue is completely unsuitable. And this is music. What about all the other performing arts? There are no cultural facilities in the town centre and no S106 monies specified for any cultural facilities in the Arcadia proposals. We need to scrap the Arcadia scheme; start again; and begin by asking the local community what it is that they want in the town centre. (Given Anthony Harris QC’s love a of experts it was indeed quite surprising that he did not want to tangle with ex-Professor Bradbury).

Applause from the audience was inevitable and there was indeed plenty if it.

Local resident Arthur Breens was next to speak. He made it clear that he was not opposed to change if it was reasonable, debated and carefully planned. He said that these Arcadia plans and the undemocratic machinations which surrounded them failed his tests on all fronts and by a considerable margin.

West Ealing’s Tony Elley spoke next and could not help himself in listing and describing failures of process by Ealing Council with regards to the Arcadia proposals generally and the infamous 17th December 2008 Planning Committee Meeting in particular. The Inspector had to stop him in his tracks a number of times I think for fears of libel. Tony had lived in Croydon and despaired at the way the town centre towers in his any many peoples’ views had ruined the town. He did not want this for Ealing.

After lunch LibDem Councillor Jon Ball spoke. He is one of the three elected representatives in Ealing Common Ward, one of the five central Ealing area Wards immediately east of the town centre. He spoke in opposition to the Arcadia proposals and was also ticked off by the Inspector for questioning the legality and probity of the infamous 17th December 2008 Planning Committee Meeting. However he did manage to air the miscounting and misrepresentation of the nature and content of objection and support letters re Arcadia.

Local resident and Springbridge Road shop owner Patrick Kennedy spoke in favour of the proposals.

The Inspector then brought things to an end by announcing that the Inquiry would sit next Tuesday beginning at 9:00am but not on Wednesday as he planned to spend the day viewing for himself on the ground all the many Ealing ‘views’ submitted to him. Thursday would be for Conditions and Obligations and the QCs’ summing ups.

Posted in regeneration

Day 7: Thursday 2nd July 2009

July 2, 2009

Anthony Lewis was back on again at 9:30am representing Conservation Area Panels. Russell Harris QC was his usual interrupting self as he tried to bully Anthony by putting words in his mouth about Villiers House (Anthony’s own words were ‘…it’s colour allows it to merge into the background on those many grey days that we have’). Mr Harris also tried to relate the Arcadia high tower context with the Gherkin tower context in The City. This didn’t work for me. Mr Harris also tried to shoot down English Heritage’s objections on the basis that they were often on the losing side in Secretary of State inquires.

Morag Ellis QC on behalf of Ealing Council had another go at Anthony about permeability and the railway ‘fracturing’ the centre. Anthony would have none of it.
She also had another go at the Gherkin comparison and Anthony quite correctly in my view rubbished the comparison on the basis of the massive difference in context.

I was up next on the subject of Social and Community Infrastructure and I was only grilled by Morag Ellis. It’s difficult for me to be objective about what happened during my one hour + interrogation – but I‘ll try. In my Proof of Evidence submitted some four weeks ago now to the Government I describe the centre of Ealing as a social and community services ‘desert’. The centre has no community centre, quality/large hotel, open entry State Primary or Secondary Schools, fully functioning Police Station, integrated transport hub, adequate healthcare services, conference centre, sporting facilities, Concert Hall, professional theatre, information/tourist office/Citizens’ Advice Bureau, high quality restaurants, modern meeting rooms, cinema, market, and a permanent, dedicated art gallery. All Arcadia currently offered was a gym (and we already have three of them in the centre).

My specific statements on the hopeless arrangements for healthcare, Policing and State education in Ealing’s centre were not challenged. Ms Ellis refuted me only on children’ play areas (two small ones on top of flat blocks) and on not referring to Shopmobility for the elderly on the Arcadia site.

She made a big play on the plethora of volunteer cultural activities in Ealing – taking place mainly in churches, pubs and temporary structures (eg Comedy Festival). I pointed out that the wonderful voluntary sector made up for the serious social and cultural service gaps in the commercial and local government sector. We need bespoke cultural facilities and two days of opera in a tent does not constitute a permanent, year-long bespoke cultural facility. Across the board the volunteer groups deserve much better facilities.

I also said that the £925,000 S106 money proposed for an arts centre, sporting facilities, community centre, and meeting rooms was totally inadequate. For example Ealing Lawn Tennis Club’s new 230 sq metre clubhouse just opened has cost over £450,000 and Trailfinders much larger new clubhouses complex in West Ealing complex cost £5 million. So £925,000 is a mere drop in the ocean. Similarly the relatively small amounts of money for healthcare, Policing and State education would make negligible difference.

I also posed the question as to where any of these facilities, even if funded, might be built in the Ealing Metropolitan Centre? Surely not in the 4.2 acres of Arcadia or not no doubt in the 4.4 acres of Dickens Yard. My question turned out to be rhetorical.

Picking up on SEC’s and Ealing Council’s ideas to convert the Town Hall into a modern conference/meeting rooms centre, I pointed out that this alone would cost £100,000s. As I ran my own conference business for 10 years I know what’s needed here – air conditioning, business centre facilities, modern A/V facilities, car parking, café/bar areas and built-in Internet connectivity.

Tony Miller was on next on the subject of Transport. and Access. We just had differences of opinion here. Tony’s point was that Arcadia would lead to transport and access problems and Glenkerrin said the problems would be minor.

Nick Woodward was on next talking about Environment and Sustainability. Nick is a former Oxford Fellow. His most spectacular contribution was his firm conviction that the Arcadia pollution modelling exercise was seriously flawed by erroneous input assumptions. This resulted in the production of only favourable outcomes. In reality, traffic is heavy around the site and consequent pollution levels double the safe legal limit.

Our final speaker at the end of another long hot day was James Guest on Retail Issues, He cheered us all up by showing us pictures of and describing successful contemporary retail developments in Uxbridge and Richmond. Tomorrow no doubt Mr Harris will attempt to attack James Proof of Evidence. Then residents will have their say. It promises to be a long, hot and lively Friday starting at 9:00am.

Posted in regeneration

Day 6: Wednesday 1st July 2009

July 2, 2009
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Glenkerrin’s QC Russell Harris went into attack mode today with Will French, SEC’s Chair. Will was speaking on Planning issues. Mr Harris doggedly, head down-style pursued the primacy of Ealing’s Metropolitan Centre (MC) status. This top down approach conflicted with Will’s bottom up approach with regards to Ealing’s incomplete Local Development Framework.(LDF). Mr Harris twice alluded to his work for the Mayor of London on updates to The London Plan (TLP).

It was indeed a tour de force by Mr Harris as he played national, regional, sub-regional and local standards like a one man orchestra. He laboured the point that at all planning guidance levels Ealing needed more comparison retail. He dealt with retail, housing, tall buildings, Site 63 policy, plot ratios and prematurity. Mr Harris’s insider knowledge of TLP and how it had and was transitioning was impressive as was his knowledge of the saved portions of Ealing’s UDP. Will French, whilst no slouch in planning guidance knowledge, had to bow to the QC’s superior knowledge on numerous occasions. Will made the points many times to the Inspector that many Ealing residents were very unhappy with this proposal; felt disenfranchised by local and regional governments’ reluctance to honour publicly agreed Supplementary Planning Guidelines; and continually felt that much Arcadia information concerning discussions involving TfL, CABE, Crossrail, Ealing Council, Glenkerrin, and The London Mayor’s office failed to make it into the public domain.

Will said that we had empty retail units in our town centre and that the economy is changing but Mr Harris was not deterred by this. He continued to demonstrate certainly to himself that Arcadia ticked all the inter-galactic planning guidelines. The elephant in the room when Mr Harris finished this exposition was that if what he’d demonstrated was true, why did national government take away from local  and regional governments the power to decide the Arcadia Planning Application?

Next up was Bob Gurd Chair of Ealing Civic Society (ECS) talking about ESC’s views on Arcadia. Bob was a career civil servant and was having none of Mr Harris’s Paxman like bullying. We got into looking at Professor Tavernor’s and Bob Gurd’s pics of  how Ealing might look with Arcadia in place. Lots of subjectivity here as one might expect along with lots of ‘Answer the question’ truculence from Mr Harris.

The final performance of a very long, hot day was from Anthony Lewis speaking on behalf of Ealing Area Conservation panels. Anthony began his evidence with a simple but powerful assertion that the harm to Conservation Areas which would accrue from implementing Arcadia amounted to serious damage. He followed this up with an interesting and amusing reflection on how The Applicant’s £multi-million rafting over the railway line was solving the non-problem of re-connecting both sides of the railway line. Those who actually live in Ealing know that the well established Springbridge and Broadway railway bridges – just 150 metre apart – provide all the north/south connectivity that anyone might sensibly require. Anthony is back on again at 9:30am on Thursday.

The sound system actually worked properly today – still, it’s only taken five days to fix this. Ealing Council has finally agreed to help the Rule 6 parties with the mountain of photocopying and paper that the Inquiry is requiring.

Posted in regeneration

Day 5: Tuesday 30th June 2009

June 30, 2009

I arrive, take my seat, and as I’ve done for five days now look round in vain to see Ealing Council bosses and Ealing civic worthies sitting in the audience observing or even participating in the Public Inquiry. The most expensive absentee is Ealing Council’s Chief Executive, a man rarely seen by the rate payers, Mr Darra Singh. Surely his £220,000/year salary can stretch to his showing just a little interest in the proceedings? Then there’s Councillor Leader Jason Stacey. He has also not put in an appearance. Doesn’t he care? Then there are the three Ealing Broadway Councillor Messrs Scott, Potts and Young. The first two have been nowhere to be seen. Councillor Young popped in for a few minutes on Day 1 and on Friday 3rd July will do his famous episodic performance of opposing Arcadia. Councillor Ball of the highly adjacent Ealing Common Ward popped in on Day 1 and will also be speaking this week no doubt.

We currently have three MPs in Ealing – Messrs Pound, Sharma and Slaughter. No sign of them either. At least the prospective Conservative candidate for the newly constituted Ealing Central & Acton constituency Angie Bray put in an appearance on Day 1.

This is 4.2 acres in central Ealing. This is one of the most expensive and most crucial bits of real estate in the whole borough. What happens or doesn’t happen here will set the community tone in central W5 for at least a generation – and probably till the Climate Change floods come. DON’T THE TOP GUYS EVEN CARE A LITLE ABOUT THIS?

Over the weekend Save Ealing’s Centre, the organisation opposing the Arcadia Inquiry and the team I’m playing on, launched its own daily web site log on the Inquiry. SEC will inevitably pick up on some issues I may not feature, so also keep your eye on

Today is all about Neal Bleakley and, ostensibly, Development Management. We have moved to the Town Hall basement and into Queens Hall, which is around half the size of Victoria Hall, where we were last week. There is limited room for residents and soon with over 30 of them some had to stand up. The first microphone failure occurred at 10:28 am. It’s hot, cramped and sticky.

The Council’s barrister tried to finesse through Mr Bleakley the Council’s way out of the no tall buildings policy black hole that they slipped into on Friday. We viewed a slightly surreal dialogue between the two of them about the concepts surrounding the word ‘generally’ in the context of ‘generally no tall buildings’. No-one in my row was convinced about by semantics tango. I wonder if the Inspector was?

Mr Bleakley launched into an interesting exposition on the status of all the UDP designated development sites in the centre of Ealing. It’s the kind of info one cannot pick up from the Council’s web site (even when it’s working). However the management summary is that of the eight UDP development sites identified, actual building work is occurring on just one of them – the so-called Ealing Cross office block on the south side of the Uxbridge road office alley western end. Boarded up inactivity after demolition describes the Empire Cinema site and the ‘economy’ hotel site, and the old Westel House is just boarded up with broken windows on its north facing aspect. Dickens Yard has been stalled now for seven months in ‘detailing’ dialogues between the Council and St George.

Draft S106 monies were again alluded to, including a £50,000 provision for an unspecified work of art. Cited from the draft agreement was that only 50% would be paid over by the developer until 550 of the 567 flats were actually occupied – then the 50% balance would be paid.. Bit worrying that. Our barrister repeatedly asked for explanations or formulas used for calculating the level of S106 payments, but none were forthcoming that bore any substance. Money for allotments was mentioned but no details were forthcoming as the where in Ealing these would be sited.

The audience had to be reprimanded by the Inspector for giggling out loud at some of Mr Bleakley’s statements. He was asked a wide range of questions and quite clearly he couldn’t answer some of them. He did however attempt to answer the allegations of gerrymandering with regards to the level of written support for Arcadia. Double counting; giving equal status to pro-forma letters as to substantive letters; and confusing support for regeneration with support for Arcadia were all brought up. All this clearly made Mr Bleakley uneasy.

The bus station issue came up again. We heard that TfL said it would cost £40 million and would have to be privately financed. 114 car parking places for commercial and retail use came up. Why this number? No answer. Compensating the loss of habitat in the railway cutting was raised – but no substantive explanation given.

We start at 9:30am tomorrow Wednesday 1st July with the first of the good guys Will French, SEC Chair. He’ll talk and be grilled on Planning.

Posted in regeneration

Day 4: Friday 26th June 2009

June 26, 2009

Cooler today – thank goodness and the microphones worked well at least 90% of the time. Between 12 to 16 residents attended today.

Up first was Ealing Council’s Regeneration supremo Brendon Walsh. Brendon’s demeanour was somewhat humourless and robot like. He tried to sell to everyone in the room the quality, robustness and consistency of the Council’s regeneration activities and plans. The Council first articulated a rendition of site development plans in 2002.

Brendon came up with a phrase which he first used on me in a meeting with him in January 2007.

‘Ealing is not punching its weight’. My 2007 and my here and now (unspoken) reaction to this sporting aphorism was/is ‘well lose some weight, and fight in a lower weight division’.

He said that Section 106 contributions would be used for social and community and sports and leisure facilities. He didn’t say what size these contributions would be or what or where such facilities would be provided. One did begin to wonder where a new school, police station, health centre, community centre, five-a-side football pitch, basketball courts, snooker hall and skate board park would be located in the Ealing Metropolitan Centre. Locating them in Northolt, Greenford or Southall might not actually bring water to the central Ealing social and community services ‘desert’.

He also said that many (unnamed) retailers and developers were waiting with bated breath so see if the Government accepted or rejected the Arcadia planning application. If it was approval it would persuade these folks to invest in Ealing centre. It’s an interesting opinion, but my sources tell me that many developers are pre-occupied with surviving; have great difficulty raising finance for new projects; and may not still be in business when the Inspector announces his decision in November 2009.

Mr Walsh was positively apocalyptic when contemplating the Inspector refusing the application. He said it would be ‘devastating’. It would lead to piece-meal development; ‘disaggregation’; the ‘Gateway’ would be diminished; and we’d have a town centre unfit for purpose. I chewed on this for a while. If Arcadia were to be refused the sky would not fall in; the roads would not collapse; and we wouldn’t be visited by locusts, famine and pestilence. In fact our poor quality of Ealing centre life would continue but we’d still get by more or less as usual.

However were Arcadia to be refused it could be devastating for Ealing Council’s Regeneration Team. Regeneration plans in South Acton, Acton centre, and Green Man Lane Estate are getting a hammering in the press and by local residents. The Dickens Yard planning application hasn’t reached The London Mayor yet and is still ‘stuck’ in conflict with developers St George at Perceval House seven months after Ealing Planning Committee blessed it. If Arcadia is lost surely the expensive Regeneration Team cannot survive on just cosmetic ‘restyling’ of paving stones, park entrances, flower beds and the like. So that could be where the devastation actually occurs.

Brendon assured us that the country would emerge from Recession. He also, without any supporting evidence, stated that those living close to Arcadia like the GRASS (Gordon Road) folks were objectors, but those that lived ‘further out’ were ‘very supportive’. I live ‘further out’. But the biggest bit of hubris came when he decided to comment on Public Consultation results. He said that it was important to hear what residents wanted but consultants’ views were more important….

It crept out that almost £1 million S106 money would be spent on an Arts Centre. (I’ve just been part of a team that has spent around £500,000 on a smallish tennis clubhouse and I can assure you that you can’t build much of an Arts Centre for 300,000 people with £1 million). Brendon talked about re-purposing the Town Hall as both a seat of Local Government and a Conference Centre/Community Centre/Arts Centre.

The Inspector was concerned about the large number of residents who wrote objecting to Arcadia and the retailing risk given current voids and the rise of the very accessible Westfield, along with Oxford Street.

Ealing Council’s Dick Johns witnessed next on Planning Policy. Dick is an eminently likeable and honest man. I say this even though in his presentation he tried to destroy my Proof of Evidence!

I found myself pinching myself at 12:05 pm as Dick began discussing details on how able-bodied/disabled bodied/parent:bay combos would move around the housing estate. So…after around 20 hours or so of the Inquiry …..we were actually – for the very first time – discussing human being issues concerning actually living in Arcadia.

As yet formally unconfirmed, more S106 figures and details began to emerge:

£180,000: Shopmobility Scheme
£924,000: Arts centre/Community Centre/Sports Facilities/Concert Hall
£986,000: Schools
£400,000: Healthcare
£1,262,125: Parks Improvements

In my Proof of Evidence I describe the centre of Ealing as a ‘desert’ with respect to social and community facilities. Dick surprised me when he critiqued this whole section. Later in the day Ealing Council’s QC Morag Ellis announced that she would not be interrogating me on my proof. I then realised that by Dick attacking me in his so called ‘Chief’ submission, during which I could not interrogate him. Now that Morag isn’t going to have a go at me I won’t be able to respond directly! I guess that’s why the QCs are, allegedly, on £500/hour!

I could here on this blog give my response to Dick’s critique, but because SEC wants to ‘win’ this Public Inquiry I want to share my response with our barrister Tom over the weekend and no doubt we’ll get my response into the Inquiry next week (kick-off 10:00am Tuesday) in Queens Hall this time. BTW those residents who registered to speak on Day I of the inquiry will almost certainly be asked to speak on Friday 3rd July – so you should attempt to be there on that day.

But saving the best to last….


Have a nice weekend everybody.

Posted in regeneration

Day 3: Thursday 25th June 2009

June 26, 2009

The morning was taken up by Transport with Mike Axon representing Glenkerrin. There were clear areas of disagreement between Glenkerrin and SEC, but respective positions were re-iterated and defended.

SEC’s contention is that the Arcadia development is unsuitable for the site and that the transport arrangements are inadequate. The traffic impacts on central Ealing will amount to degeneration and the Section 106 money will be inadequate to compensate.

Glenkerrin asserts that transport facilities provided by the development will be able to cope with the projected demand and that S106 money will provide any additional changes and improvements in the immediate environs of the development.

I caught sight of the projected S106 spend of almost £2 million on transport. It is:

£1.3 million towards a bus interchange or ‘other appropriate public transport facilities’

£250,000 towards ‘Travel Demand Management’ (TDM) in the town centre. (TDM covers a wide range of tools and techniques from better travel information to parking management systems)

£50,000 towards variable message car park signing

£25,000 towards monitoring and reviewing Ealing CPZs

£5,000 to travel plan monitoring

£300,000 to Ealing Broadway Station (EBS) forecourt improvements including a relocation and improvement of the pedestrian crossing. (Glenkerrin is paying cash to itself here as it owns the EBS forecourt).

Up to £55,000 for new Springbridge road pedestrian crossing

Up to £40,000 for crossing relocation on The Broadway

Restrictions preventing residents from obtaining parking Permits

A Car Club and travel management plan.

Great play was made about the view that Mr Axon and TfL rejected out of hand the notion that the Arcadia site was a suitable site for a bus station and that the non-provision of a bus station in no way invalidated the Arcadia proposals. TfL Mr Axon produced copies of emails to him from TfL at one point and it was clear he had a close working relationship with them.

Julian Carter was up next for Glenkerrin speaking on Town Planning and Control. He spoke for an hour and basically said that the Arcadia proposals ticked all the national, regional and local town planning guidelines. There then followed some discussions about the primacy of The London Plan over the so called ‘saved’ sections of the Ealing UDP; the validity if the Supplementary Planning Guidelines; and the relevance, in ‘legal’ planning terms, of The Tibbalds Report. (If you are unsure of the nature of these various tomes have a look at my Arcadia Glossary).

It’s now clear to me that there are lots (at least two) different opinions on the interpretation and implications of a whole raft of Government planning guidelines. It’s also very apparent that this is a legal wrangle that’s taking place. After three days we have heard nothing really about what life might be like for residents, shoppers and visitors in a new Arcadia. As this is a housing development, it does seem odd that we have had no discussion on what it might be like actually living on let’s say the 21st floor of ‘Lantern’ tower. Instead it’s been the cut and thrust of my Section 4.123 versus your Policy 3D.7.

Ealing Council go into bat on Day 4 Friday, 26th June with the Council’s Regeneration supremo Brendon Walsh giving evidence. I do remember his arrival at Ealing Council in late 2006 when there really was no Regeneration Team in Perceval House. Now there are plenty of these Regenerates and even Ealing Council’s Planning Department reports into them. ‘How the mighty are risen’.

Posted in regeneration
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About author

A local residents’ group – West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) - is writing and hosting this blog. WEN is a founder member of SEC. The blog’s author is Eric Leach who is Vice-Chair of WEN. Eric is speaking on behalf of SEC on the subject of social and community infrastructure. He is planning to attend every day of the Inquiry and the blog will be his daily observations on the proceedings.