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

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


  1. Sounds as though SEC, and you, Eric, were very masterful – very inspiring

    Comment by Gillma — July 3, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  2. Excellent summary of the facilities that are lacking in Ealing’s centre and will continue to be conspicuous by their absence should Glenkerrin get their way. Best of luck Eric.

    Comment by Ian — July 3, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

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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!







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