|Locals Fear New Hotel May Force Business Closures|
Viv Ellis writes about plans causing concern to residents and businesses
Traders in West Ealing, who fear their businesses could go to the wall if a new hotel is built, have launched a petition to try to save their livelihoods.
A planning application has been lodged to build a 60 room hotel at the junction of Uxbridge Road and Melbourne Avenue.
The proposed site covers the area from Luckhurst the butchers - who have been there since 1996 - up to the Uxbridge Road. The plans will mean developing the currently empty corner site (formerly a pound shop) and above the Brighthouse store. The existing first floor will be retained and two (or more) new storeys added.
There is some confusion about which hotel chain has made the application. The paperwork mentions both Ibis and EasyHotel founded by Greek entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
I spoke to the architect, but he declined to name his client.
Because of the proposed design of the hotel – with plate glass windows at ground level - the flower stall and card stall fear they will have to close.
Says Dean Upfold ''This flower business has been here for 30 years, I don’t want to move.''
Similarly affected is Bill McCafferty who has been selling greeting cards from a stall on the site for 14 years. He told me ''There has been no consultation, I only found out about this last week. I am heartbroken. If the other businesses are destroyed, my customers will disappear too.''
Another regular market stall on the opposite side of Melbourne Avenue is Puddle’s fruit and veg. Says Jimmy Puddle '' All the building work will drive customers away.''
David Higham from West Ealing Neighbours said, “We don’t question the need for redevelopment of that site, but does west Ealing need a 60 room hotel? We already have two half a mile away let alone the newly revamped Drayton Court and the boutique Xanadu. The flower stall, card stall and other traders are a valued feature of our high street and we want to keep them.”
Tony Luckhurst - a popular and respected trader who was even featured on BBC TV recently talking about the current horse meat scandal – confirms that he will have to close for perhaps 12 months while the building work is done, “I’m not against the redevelopment as such – the area needs some TLC but this is my livelihood and it’s very worrying to think about what might happen”
Many people are angry about the lack of consultation. The stall holders said the announcement of the application came as a compete bolt from the blue.
Eileen Pollock representing residents of O’Grady Court, an OAP sheltered accommodation block with 62 flats, in Melbourne Avenue said: ''I’ve never seen anything like it, every resident who is able to has objected on the council’s web site. The letter from the council was very misleading, giving the impression that if you rent rather than own your property you could not object.'' Eileen also showed me the letter from the council informing her about plans for a hotel with 60 rooms – yet the architect’s plans lists 70 rooms. ''Which are we supposed to believe?''
There are no plans for any extra parking as the hotel is next to ''excellent public transport''. However traders, and residents alike are also concerned about this. Said David Higham , “This will increase pressure on parking in local streets which are one of the few non-CPZ areas around.”
A council spokesperson said:
''All local residents and businesses – including Luckhurst Butchers – were asked for their feedback during the formal consultation. We have received responses from residents and businesses, including street traders.
''The council is presently reviewing these responses. The assessment of the planning application would take into consideration views expressed in the consultation including letters of support and objection.
''Other information being considered includes servicing, impact on levels of parking congestion in the local area, the design of the extensions and the internal design and layout of the hotel.''
Views on the application can be submitted to Ealing Council by Friday 22 February.
20th February 2013