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

Last day, Day 10: Thursday 9th July 2009

July 10, 2009
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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 ‘..to 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.

 


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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. http://www.westealingneighbours.org.uk

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.


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Day 7: Thursday 2nd July 2009

July 2, 2009
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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.


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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.


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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 wenabundance@gmail.com If you are interested in volunteering, or have a fruit tree to pick!

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