Concern Grows Over Scale of Planned Waitrose Development

Hints given that more skyscrapers may be included in scheme

Waitrose, West Ealing. Picture: N Chadwick


Concern Grows Over Scale of Planned Waitrose Development

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With the details of the planned Waitrose development in West Ealing set to be revealed in the next few days there is concern about the likely scale of the development.

The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) have refused to released details of its proposals declining to answer our questions on the likely height of the buildings. The project web site currently gives no further information about the scheme but it is expected the outline of the proposal will be revealed at public exhibitions due to take place on Friday 1 July and Saturday 2 July.

The Stop The Towers group (STT), which campaigns against unnecessary tall buildings in the Ealing area, fear this coyness from JLP may indicate that the scale of the development will be at the higher end of expectations.

In conversations with representatives of JLP this week they have been told that the site near West Ealing station on Alexandria Road would form part of an 'emerging cluster' around a transport hub and gave the Manor Road development, which has planning permission for 22-storeys but is not yet constructed, as a reference point. There was fierce opposition to this scheme which residents felt was out of place in an area in which two-storey Victorian housing predominates and was approved only on appeal in the face of opposition from the borough planning committee and the GLA.

JLP has also been guarded on the number of flats that will be in the scheme declined to answer questions on this subject both from and STT other than to say it was hoping to develop 'a few hundred' homes in this and two other schemes. All JLP was willing to confirm is that the flats will be owned and managed by them on a range of short and long term leases. The Ealing project was one of four schemes announced at the same time which was part of a major change of strategy by the group. In an earlier statement said that the three projects announced so far are the first stage of the company’s intention to build 10,000 housing units over the next decade with half coming from its own portfolio. It anticipates 40% of its profits coming from its property business by 2030.

The scheme will require the demolition of the current store, which was opened only 17 years ago, and see residential tower blocks built over the current car park and a new store.

STT says it has been talking to Cllr Shital Manro, the chair of the borough planning committee, about the plans for developing this site for the last 12 months.

It comments, "Despite our numerous requests Cllr Manro is not giving too much away but says JLPs plans are ‘reasonable for the site.’

"Sadly, despite repeated requests neither JLP nor Cllr Manro have yet let us see any plans or details of the towers or flats they plan on the Waitrose site, and have been unable to deny that they have already held detailed talks about the plans. Our fear is that, as with the Manor Road site, this will be a done deal, behind closed doors, between developers and the council."

The groups says that the development will be a key test of council leader Peter Mason's pledge to end the building of large towers that are unwanted by residents.

Justine Sullivan, co-Chair of STT said, “We’ve tried to find out more about the development but so far have been stonewalled. So we urge Ealing residents to attend and ask questions about the height and density of the development. We need answers. At the moment we don’t know if it’s 10 or 1000 new flats. No one is saying. And with the application due to go to planning by the end of the year / early 2023, someone needs to get a move on and start sharing images if they are working to that schedule.

“Yet again Ealing Council is on the back foot here. 12 months on from the disastrous Manor Road appeal, the council still hasn’t published its’ five-year housing supply figures (a statutory obligation, for which they’ve been fined). Nor have they published a local plan for what is, or isn’t acceptable to be built. Without these documents or a tall buildings policy (still unpublished), fighting inappropriate development is like a one-legged man trying to win an arse-kicking contest.”

An exhibition of the plans will be held this Friday 1 July 4pm-8pm and Saturday 2 July 10am-2pm at West Ealing library near Sainsburys in Melbourne Avenue W13 9BT. STT is urging local residents to attend the events to see what JLP are planning - and give their views.

If the project proceeds on schedule, there will be two more rounds of consultation before the end of the year and then a planning application will be submitted to Ealing Council in December. Subject to approval, construction would begin in summer 2023 with completion expected in 2027.


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July 7, 2022


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