An Open Letter to the Planning Committee of Ealing Council

Ealing Council Chamber

To the Concerned Parties of the Ealing Planning Committee,

On 18th February 2018 a meeting of Ealing’s planning committee was convened. The first item submitted for approval at this meeting was a proposed residential tower block to be constructed in North Acton on the site of a former Art Deco wing of the Imperial College: the “Perfume Factory”.

A Powerful Objection

The proposed development was controversial because of its height and because of the density of its living spaces, which inspired a strongly worded speech from the designated objector, Mr Jonathan Notley, a local activist. There followed an equally strong debate, and by the time the vote came it was clear that at least two of the committee intended to vote against the motion, one of them citing the phrase “rabbit hutches in the sky” with reference to the 20 studio apartments that were well below what the new London Plan considers a “liveable space”.

The vote then took place, and this took the traditional form of the raising of hands of all those who approved of the application, and then the raising of hands of all those who objected. The Chair, Steve Hines, counted 6 votes in favour and 6 votes against the application. This meant that he could bring his own casting vote into play. He chose to wave through the motion, and thus the Perfume Factory development was, for the moment, approved.

An Extraordinary Mistake

It took an eagle eyed and bold member of the public to spot what had happened during the decision making process: and this member of the public, thankfully, took action by having a message sent down to Mr Hines from the public gallery. It transpired that a mistake had been made by the planning meeting’s adjudicator; a mistake that was missed by the 3 people who sat next to him (including the Planning Committee’s legal advisor) and faced those who took the vote.

The voting numbers had been miscounted!

There were a few moments of confusion, as this incident appeared to be without precedent. However it was eventually decided to take the vote again. Upon a second time of asking, it was seen that the application for the Perfume Factory had in fact been rejected by 7 votes to 5.

Footage of the meeting, including the two votes was recorded by Mr Notley, and can be seen in this humorous montage:

Upon viewing the footage, and in hindsight, it does not seem difficult to see that the hands of those approving in fact numbered less than those raised against. However, mistakes do happen.

But the vital question now is how do we take this forward? How can we ensure this does not happen again?

A Plea for the Future

What makes this doubly important now is the issue of trust. Because if there is another close vote, especially upon a contentious project like the Perfume Factory, then questions may be asked about the veracity of the decision. And even if they are not explicitly stated, this memory will be there.

It is clear that more transparency is required: with twelve members of the planning committee, votes should be taken one by one and then formally recorded. This would provide more accountability, and of course greater accuracy. Also, why is the recording or filming of planning meetings considered such an unusual step?

The level and style of development being seen now, not just in Ealing but across London and other major cities in Britain, has become a prominent and controversial issue. The public are, understandably, angry and mistrustful. The way to assuage this mistrust is with greater openness and democracy.

Yours Faithfully

Mr Jeremy D Parker
Ealing Green Party

OBJECT HERE: Development Overdrive in Hanwell: We Need to Speak Up Now

Did you know…?

There are 457 new units proposed in one square mile of Hanwell right now.  Sites like Wickes/Nissan, the so-called “Marshall” site next to Gold’s Gym and the former Peugeot Garage site are due to spring 6-9 storeys high!  What has been happening across London is coming to Hanwell: intensive, inappropriate, high-rise flats.

Parking hell on the way

Under the guise of sounding “green”, many of these developments offer zero or limited parking.  But people have cars, and they will have to park them on our roads and traffic congestion will increase.  A Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) will not resolve this.

No solution to the housing crisis

For sure, London needs more homes.  But these developments are not the solution.  They will be unaffordable for people most in need of somewhere to live.

We need real homes for local people, not overseas investors

Many of these proposed flats are really rabbit hutches: low ceilings, cramped rooms and virtually zero green space. These are being developed for maximum profit, not as places for people to live.

Wrecking the community

Hanwell is a wonderful place because people can live, study, work and shop here.  Flats like these will overwhelm our overstretched hospitals, schools and public transport.

Who is Ealing Council working for?

Ealing seems to be working only for the big landowners and developers, not for local people.  The Labour-dominated council needs a Green voice to hold them to account.

Hanwell needs to speak up for what it wants

The people of Hanwell need to pull together to develop a vision for what we want our community to be.

What can I do?

You can object to several of the developments illustrated on the map above, which are currently in the Council’s consultation process.  Below are links to take you directly to the relevant part of the planning portal.

We need a strategy for Hanwell, and we’d like to hear from you.  What is your vision for our neighbourhood?  Do we need flats or community facilities?

Links to the Ealing Planning Portal

To comment on the Wickes/Nissan development of 283 units in units ranging from 5 to 7 storeys, go to this link.

To comment on the so-called “Marshall” building of 59 units in a structure 9 storeys high with no parking provision, go to this link.

To sign the petition against the Marshall building go to this link.

To comment on the 9 unit (5 flats and 4 townhouses) development at 16 Boston Road, go to this link.

To comment on the 6 unit redevelopment of the former Horseshoe Cafe at 68 Boston Road, go to this link.

To comment on the 4-5 unit extension and redevelopment of the building at 3 Westminster Road, go to this link.

Ealing needs a Green Voice

Image: Map contains information from https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/ under the Open Database License (ODbL)

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