Arcadia Redevelopment - Reaction
Town centre plans won't go ahead
Eric Leach from West Ealing Neighbours attended every day of the Arcadia Public Inquiry
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 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.
Eric Leach Vice-Chair West Ealing Neighbours
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December 9, 2009