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

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 http://www.saveealingscentre.com

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 http://www.westealingneighbours.org.uk

Copies of the Arcadia Public Inquiry opponents’ Proofs of Evidence documents can be viewed at http://www.saveealingscentre.com

Glossary

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
eric@leachet.demon.co.uk
07836 275278
http://www.westealingneighbours.org.uk

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About author

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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