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

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’.

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Day 2: Wednesday 24th June 2009

June 24, 2009

I walked into the Inquiry at 10:10am with LSE Professor Robert Tavernor in full swing on the subjects of Townscape and Heritage in support of developers Glenkerrin. This guy’s qualifications and credentials filled up four pages of A4 in his Proof of Evidence.

I soon began to glaze over – partly because he spoke in an unenthusiastic monotone and partly because he was attempting the impossible i.e. trying to talk about architecture. The latter is as impossible as people trying to speak about performances of music or art. I soon got irritated by his bizarre use of language e.g. calling the tall tower a ‘Lantern’; ‘sinuous balconies’;‘stable anchor’; and ‘..can be held in the mind as representing place.’

He made great play of the tall tower being a landmark and how it needed to be the landmark of Ealing Metropolitan Centre (EMC). It did occur to me what ‘harm’ would be done to the EMC if it didn’t have a landmark. He also made great play on the fact that it was a residential landmark. The latter could have a smaller footprint than an office landmark he said (oh really what about Centrepoint in W1?). Also Ealing’s creation was a result of the massive Victorian/Edwardian residential villas, semis and terraces building programmes following the railway and underground’s arrival in Ealing. Hence a residential landmark of 26 storeys?

I was yearning at this point for someone in the audience to jump up and yell ‘this is all bulshxt’ – but folks were much too polite for that.

He made it clear that the final (of four) different iterations of the tower design in the Planning Application was thrashed out by the London Mayor, Tavernor, the Fosters+Partners team, and CABE. This seems completely intuitively wrong. Why weren’t immediately adjacent residents, residents groups (GRASS, CERA, WRA), and Ealing Town Centre/Haven Green Conservation Panel representatives involved in this ‘final’ or indeed the initial designs?

The Professor lost the plot completely at one point and referred to our town as Epping!

He also said that the Arcadia tower was great because it was designed by the world’s leading architects. This is a bit like saying this painting is by Picasso therefore it must be a great piece of art.

Views, renditions and images were endlessly described by the witness for what seemed like an hour.

After lunch, SEC’s barrister Tom Cross began cross examining the Professor. He began with a factual question. How high is the tower? Tavernor didn’t know, and none of the Glenkerrin and Ealing Council teams knew either. Just how sloppy and arrogant is that? Eventually someone on his team came up with a height which was soon corrected as the original height given was height above sea level (Above Ordnance Datum – AOD – in architectural jargon).

The Professor then got progressively irritated as Tom asked him to comment on the vast differences between the Arcadia proposals and what existed around the site re materials, heights, solids to voids, shapes, colours and look and feel. He also forensically went through the details of the recent Conservation Area Character Appraisals  and Tavernor was clearly not happy with this.

At the end of this, Tom actually raised his voice slightly (for the first time) and said that ‘..Arcadia will effect radical change to the character of both Ealing Town Centre and Haven Green Conservation Areas’.

The Professor’s parting shot to Tom was that Arcadia was ‘great architecture’

The Inspector then asked the audience to ask questions.

Val Clover, a local resident raised the terrorist angle – tall ‘landmark’ tower; on top of a major rail route; next to a major station; close to shopping and residential areas. The inspector made small attempts to curtail her point – but she got it out anyway. He said the Professor was the wrong formal witness to deal with this. He said someone else subsequently would answer her question. However I personally doubt that the subject is dealt with at all by any of the Statutory or Rule 6 witnesses.

Sue New wanted Tavernor to tell her how a community was going to be created in Arcadia; why we’d had four tower designs – two in one month alone; and she wanted the public to have access to the top of the tower. I didn’t detect she got any of these questions answered.

Julian Edmunds then asked 10+ questions mostly on views and many that had already been dealt with.

By this stage I was hot and sticky in the unchilled room on a hot day. Russell Harris QC for Glenkerrin had his rebuttal against Tom’s and other’s points. Before we slipped away into the hot Broadway air we received the joyous news that we would have to switch rooms within the Town Hall for tomorrow’s sessions. Tomorrow it’s Glenkerrin’s Transport witness Mike Axon.

Government Inspector David Richards deserves some praise here for the very fair way he’s conducted the proceedings so far. He’s given everyone ample chance to speak, respond and do research.

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Day 1: Tuesday 23rd June 2009

June 24, 2009
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Euphoria kicks at 8:30am when I see on Google News that the much rumoured English Heritage (EH) survey  on Conservation Areas (CAs) being at risk and threatened by ‘..neglect, decay or damaging change…’ has been launched.

Euphoria turns to anger, dismay and shame when on arriving at Ealing Town Hall at 9:00am when I’m told by my SEC colleagues who have scanned the survey that Ealing is not in the survey. Why? It appears that Ealing Council did not fill in the EH survey forms – consequently details on how Ealing CA’s might be under threat are missing. Incompetence or malevolence? I guess we’ll never know.

I pushed past a crowd of Police and PCSOs as I entered the building. However upon entering Victoria Hall, the venue for some on the Public Inquiry, I was pleased to see that Police were not stationed in the Hall – in contrast to various recent Ealing Council Planning Committee and Ward Forum meetings.

By 10:00am  around 100 local residents had taken their places sitting strangely some 25 yards from the Inspector, David Richards. Separating the residents and the Inspector were a rank of Rule 6 parties – SEC, ECS and Conservation Panels – to his right. To his left were Glenkerrin’s and Ealing Council’s troops. All these folks with formal speaking parts – some 30 in number – were 15 yards apart. Sean O’Gorman, Glenkerrin’s long haired almost Hippy looking UK boss, was in amongst his troops trying and trying to get a Wireless connection to work on his laptop.

We had an hour of housekeeping by the Inspector on proofs of evidences, core documents, common ground etc. Glenkerrin’s QC Russell Harris – a powerful Welsh Blunderbuss of a man– waded in about the lack of SEC proofs. Tom Harris, our Rule 6 Barrister, calmly quoted the date on which we couriered four copies of all the proofs to the Government’s PINS office in Bristol (which met the Inspector’s deadline date). It was confirmed that the ‘batting order’ for presentations was going to be Glenkerrin, Ealing Council and then Rule 6 parties and then anyone else. Morag Ellis QC, dressed all in black, introduced herself as Ealing Council’s representative, being instructed by Ealing Council’s Helen Harris.

The Inspector estimated that the Inquiry would last for 12 (working) days. Week 1 would be taken up by Glenkerrin’s  presentations; followed by Ealing Council’s spilling into week 2; and then Rule 6 folks and then local residents spilling into week 3; followed by Conditions and Obligations.

SEC confirmed its batting order is:
Will French – Planning
Robert Gurd – ECS
Anthony Lewis- CAs
Eric Leach – Social and Community Infrastructure
Tony Miller – Transport
Nick Woodward – Sustainability
James Guest – Retail

Glenkerrin’s order:
Hugh Stewart –Architecture and Design
Robert Tavernor – Townscape and Heritage
Mike Axon – Transport
Julian Carter – Town Planning and Control

Ealing Council:
Dick Johns – Planning Policy
Brendon Walsh – Regeneration
Neal Bleakly – Development Management

The Inspector asked the audience who else wanted to speak and 27 people said they did. They were Alex Engler, Mike Harlow, Audrey Jones, Sian Vasey OBE (Ealing Centre for Independent Living), Corinne Templer, Louise Sheard (Christchurch School), Councillor Ms Phil Greenhead (HobbayneWard), Susan New, Arthur Breens (Kingsdown Residents Association), Julian Edmunds (Central Ealing Residents Association), Bill Soper, Simon Rowley/John Beeston (transport – EPTUG), Peter Smith (BID Co), Colin Bradbury, Patrick Kennedy (CoC), Zeta Warner, Anthony Elley, Councillor Phil Taylor (Northfields Ward), Councillor Anthony Young (Ealing Broadway Ward), Councillor Ann Chapman (Walpole Ward), Councillor Jon Ball (Ealing Common Ward), Patrick Chapman (Walpole Residents Association), John Rhodes, Clive Whitcroft, Tony Palmer, and Penny Mason (Ealing Village).

The Inspector asked for press to identify themselves. Mathew Lynch of BBC Inside Out announced his presence. Jon Ball said that Ealing Gazette would appear at lunch.

Glenkerrin promised a copy of a signed Section 106 agreement at the end of the Inquiry. Tom Cross, for Rule 6 folks, asked for an early copy of the draft of this, especially in connection with new transport facilities and arrangements.

Glenkerrin’s Russell Harris then delivered (i.e. read) his opening broadside. His contention was that Arcadia met the needs of Ealing’s Metropolitan Centre status. He used flowery and emotive language about the proposal like ‘thoughtful’, ‘well considered and elegant’, ‘policy context’, ‘Ealing Metropolitan Gateway marker’ and ‘ no return to history’.

The Lady in Black was up next on behalf of Ealing Council. She basically said that the Arcadia proposals ticked all the Council’s Scrutiny boxes.

Tom was up next for our side;

‘Buildings need to be in the right place’.

His contention was that Arcadia might be fine somewhere – but not here in the centre of Ealing. The context had been misunderstood. The proposals don’t relate to their surroundings. It’s too big; out of keeping with its surroundings; delivers inadequate social and community facilities – which S106 will not compensate for; doesn’t provide an integrated transport hub; and will change Ealing centre for ever.

The harm is serious.

Glenkerrin then started stating their case and pretty soon Hugh Stewart, a Partner at Foster+Parners spoke for a long time on the Architecture and Design of the Arcadia proposal. His absent minded Professor-like demeanour; Ealing Council’s positively Medieval public address facility; and sun streaming directly into the eyes of the public audience; made for a torrid, challenging time for all. That being said it was the first time for many of us that we got any real sort of feeling for the external physicality of the proposals. He laboured the point about re-connecting The Broadway to Haven Green – a connection lost with the arrival of GWR in 1838. A £multi-multi-million  development of rafting supporting high rise residential tower blocks was seemingly the only choice when a million pound bridge(s) would have effected this re-connection was lost on Mr Stewart. He justified the tall tower (which to me looks like a stack of curvaceous office mail trays) as being a ‘symbol of Ealing’, a ‘symbol of the centre’, a  ‘marker’ and ‘.. (people) will know where Ealing is’. These are all valid English words and valid combinations of English words but their sense escapes me.

Then, our Tom tore Mr Stewart to shreads.

Mr Stewart, apparently, had only been involved in the ‘evolution’ of the design of the tower (from 40 storeys to 26 storeys). HKR, the designers of the Arcadia ‘master plan’, were not speaking at the Inquiry. Mr Stewart had presented himself as an expert on the whole scheme when in fact he had ‘inherited’ this whole scheme when he became involved in June 2007.

Tom then tortured him on the aspect of ‘..good design should be integrated into the existing environment’; PPG3 ‘..paying very close attention to respecting scale, height, massing and appropriate materials; site selection; post site selection; Conservation Area issues; and appropriate and missing views.

(We had in the middle of all this broken for lunch and as Ealing Council’s £1 billion annual turnover couldn’t run to providing facilities in-house to water and feed us, our team repaired to Poco Loco in the Broadway who did us proud with excellent fast food and drink).

Mr, Stewart began his presentation lacking a certain confidence. By the end, his confidence seemed to have deserted him completely.

The Inspector then took questions from the audience – some of which severely tested Mr Stewart and Russell Harris had to step in at times. The inspector also asked some questions, some of which were taken for objections and comments he had received.

We then had the spectacle of Russell Harris trying to recover Mr Stewart’s performance by questioning him with questions that he could answer successfully. To my untuned eye this process is entered into in order to head off a subsequent Appeal in the grounds that ‘we weren’t allowed to rebut’.

Proceedings closed at 5:00pm.

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Day Before the Inquiry Starts: Monday, 22nd June 2009

June 23, 2009
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All combatants must be marshalling their troops and materials today – SEC certainly is. It’s become clear that the batting order will be Glenkerrin going in first for a few days; followed by Ealing Council, again for a few days; then followed by the so-called ‘Rule 6’ parties of which SEC is one; and I suppose anyone else.

SEC has hired a smart, youngish Planning Barrister called Tom Cross who works at the Chambers of a Robin Purchas QC, situated just behind El Vino’s wine bar at Middle Temple in W1’s lawyer land. Tom will question Glenkerrin’s and Ealing Council’s speakers – just like in a criminal trial.

Over 360 people in Ealing have given over £20,000 to pay SEC’s legal costs – and the money is still coming in. SEC has worked hard to raise this cash, but the volume and variety of contributions shows the depth and breadth of opposition to the Arcadia plans.

SEC/ECS/Conservation Area Panels speakers include Bob Gurd, Anthony Lewis, Nick Woodward, James Guest, Will French, Tony Miller and myself. Professor Sir Peter Hall is also expected to speak for our side. English Heritage is also expected to speak.

Glenkerrin (‘The Applicant’) appears not to be speaking itself, but will be represented by an expensive barrister and highly paid planning, ‘urban design’ and architectural experts.

As I understand it, Ealing Council’s speakers include Dick Johns, Neil Bleakley and Brendon Walsh, Ealing’s planning supreme. Aileen Jones is apparently unlikely to speak. Ealing Council’s famous penchant for missing deadlines seems to be holding up as they seem to have missed the deadline date for submitting so called ‘Proofs of Evidence’ by two whole days.

I’ve been advised not to expect luxurious facilities to be provided (and to be paid for) by Ealing Council to accommodate the visiting warring factions. Three weeks ‘accommodation’ – such as it might be – will be provided in the 1889-built and little updated Ealing Town Hall. Of course the home team – Ealing Council – has local facilities in the Town Hall itself and in Perceval House next door, which have not as yet been offered to the opposing, visiting teams. It would of course have created a much more level playing field if this event had been held in a large, central Ealing hotel. As there isn’t such a facility, perhaps the Ramada Jarvis at Ealing Common could have been used. With Ealing Council announcing only last week its ‘…strong (financial) reserves…’, it might have been more appropriate for Ealing Council to have hosted the Inquiry in an environment with facilities consistent with those expected in the 21st century; and to have offered free meeting facilities to all involved parties.

My final pre-Inquiry comment is that how could it be remotely possible for a normal, in-paid employment, concerned Ealing resident to attend this three week event as an observer, never mind as a participant?

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Arcadia Public Inquiry 2009

June 21, 2009

At 10:00am on Tuesday 23rd June, 2009 in Ealing Town Hall David Richards an Inspector at the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in Bristol (PINS) will begin conducting a Public Inquiry on the so-called Arcadia Planning Application. The Inquiry is expected to last some three weeks, and a decision is not expected before Winter 2009.

There are at least two organisations speaking in support of the scheme. These are Ealing Council and the developer Glenkerrin. Organisations speaking in opposition to the plans include Save Ealing’s Centre (SEC), Ealing Civic Society (ECS) and town centre Conservation bodies. SEC is an alliance of 26 local residents’ and community groups who are united in promoting appropriate, proportionate and sustainable town centre development.

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A local residents’ group – West Ealing Neighbours (WEN) - Also runs WEN Abundance. We pick unwanted fruit and turn it into juice, cordial, jam and chutney to sell in the local area. All profits are ploughed back into the project. Please email If you are interested in volunteering, or have a fruit tree to pick!