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Ealing Councillors have voted to press ahead with controversial redevelopment proposals for the town centre.

Developers Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle plan to overhaul 9-42 The Broadway building flats (including an 18-storey block), shops, a music venue and promises of a 'boutique' cinema.

But the scheme has met with opposition from residents and conservation groups who say the plans will 'rip the heart out of Ealing.'

Ealing Broadway redevelopment

The application was debated before a packed public gallery last night.

Public Gallery Planning Committee

Film Director and local resident, Tony Palmer, speaking on behalf of Save Ealing Centre (SEC), said he was passionate about Ealing, it's present and it's future.

He quoted Christopher Wren, 'Architecture defines community' and said residents he represented were furious about the plans. He pleaded ' Don't consign Ealing to a Legoland dump of bits and pieces' and urged Councillors to reject the application, adding 'This Queen of the suburbs needs to stay proud.'

Ward Councillor Alex Stafford, told the committee: ''These towers will ruin the centre of Ealing, degrading our fine common land and turn the centre into some dystopian nightmare. Ealing is not Gotham City – and nor should we encourage it to become so.''

The applicant, and council officers who recommended the scheme, spoke of its strategic importance in the regeneration of Ealing.

The development offers 188 new homes (including affordable housing), new entertainment facilities including a live music venue and potentially a cinema. There will be a new pedestrian route through the town centre improving pedestrian access and widening the pavement at Carphone Corner.

Council officers said they had worked with the applicant and believed all the main sensitivities had been addressed and they recommended the plan be approved.

The Victorian Society, Historic England and other bodies have expressed major disapproval but officers claimed the development would have 'no significant impact on conservation, and sought to allay fears for the future by saying there was ' no threat' to de-designate conservation areas.

After an hour long debate, Councillors voted 8 in favour of the scheme with 5 against.

Speaking after the result Councillor Alex Stafford said, '' I am very disappointed with this damaging decision that will rip the heart out of Ealing Broadway. Buildings that have stood for over a century are being destroyed to be replaced by identikit units that neither preserve the past nor usher in a future suitable for the local community.  On top of this, Haven Green, the lungs of the Broadway, will be in a 18 storey shadow, damaging the flora and fauna, and dwarfing the area for miles around. This sets a worrying precedent for developers to ignore Ealing's much loved and needed conservation area.''

Councillor Jon Ball who also voted against the application said, '' I’m deeply disappointed by this decision. Historic England’s assessment of this scheme’s impact on Central Ealing contained the most damning comments I’ve seen from them on any scheme, and I’ve been on the Planning Committee since 2002. The majority of the Committee flew in the face of this assessment, which calls into question whether they give any regard to the heritage and character of our town.''

Julian Smith on behalf of Save Ealing Centre (SEC) said, '' SEC are obviously disappointed with the vote, particularly given the fact that input from Historic England that the proposals were not in accordance with NPPF was effectively ignored. It's hard to see what was in the minds of the committee when they set aside both the advice of national experts and the pleas of thousands of local people in voting as they did.'''

Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Julian Bell said:

"We welcome the decision made by the planning committee. This scheme will transform Ealing town centre, creating a 21st century high street with new shops and restaurants, as well as enhancing Ealing's cultural offer. The new scheme will replace the rundown buildings with a significant number of new homes and will transform the space opposite one of our five new Crossrail stations."

A spokesperson for Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle said:

“We are pleased with Ealing Council’s decision to back our major investment in Ealing Broadway and this will now be referred to the Mayor of London. We are grateful for this vote of confidence as we are committed to revitalising Ealing town centre and securing its long term status.”


(updated) 25th February 2016

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