Arcadia Redevelopment Could Stop Ealing's Decline

Why businesses are backing the new proposals - a personal opinion

Peter Smith is Chairman of Ealing Business Improvement District (BID)

here he outlines why the new Arcadia should go ahead.

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Comment on this story on the Ealing forum

Anyone using the town centre can see that many retailers are struggling under the twin burden of recession and increased competition most notably from Westfield London.

Perhaps more fundamental though is the significant lack of investment in the town centre since The Ealing Broadway Centre was developed some 25 years ago. Many of those original tenants in the Ealing Broadway Centre whose leases are expiring have chosen to shut up shop and move away.

The Glenkerrin development proposals have been keenly debated within the business community and 40 or so of those most directly affected within the site itself wrote in to support these proposals when they were approved by the Local Planning Committee in December, a clear acknowledgement that their existing premises are simply not fit for purpose.

The dominant existing property on the site, The Arcadia Shopping Centre, is a flawed 1980’s design offering little or no permeability because it feeds you into a cul-de-sac. The remaining shops on the Broadway and Station Broadway frontages comprise piecemeal infills and due to being landlocked, have no rear servicing, an essential ingredient of modern retailing.

The ‘big win’ associated with these proposals is the unification of the island site through rafting over the railway embankment. This complicated piece of engineering will eliminate the polluting effects of high speed trains travelling through the heart of the town centre and create a vastly improved setting and spatial planning for this development.

The existing lack of permeability through the site creates an imbalance in shopping patterns and causes pedestrians using the station (and they account for the highest daily footfall in the town centre) to be subordinated to the needs of vehicular traffic. Pedestrians are forced to hug narrow congested pavements with little or no public open space free of vehicular congestion. This situation will be transformed by the Glenkerrin proposals with the pedestrian only walkways, improvement lines to the existing street frontages, 24 hour access and new town squares connecting much more directly and conveniently with the rest of the town centre.

The business community in Ealing recognise that the town’s present and future prosperity and growth is very much wrapped up with the public transport node, the renewal of the station and Crossrail.

The redevelopment of this key opportunity site adjacent to

the station is, therefore, an essential way of addressing Ealing’s relative decline in the face of these new competing centres in West London.

Most importantly, however, these proposals are a pedestrian first design solution which will at long last address Ealing’s very poor arrival facility from the Station.

The economic model presented by SEC is unfortunately a recipe for irreversible decline. Despite the tough economic conditions, Ealing Broadway has all the ingredients for a bright future providing we embrace its metropolitan status and accept renewal with confidence. This is the only way we can secure Ealing’s status and future job prospects for the next generation of residents.

This development will form a new gateway to a modernised town centre served by a 21st Century transport system which will be the envy of many towns and cities in the UK.


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July 13, 2009