MP blasts 'presumption to build' after 55-storey tower block approved
There has been more anger and protests planned after Ealing Council gave the go-ahead to more high buildings including one of the tallest in London. It is widely feared that this sets a precedent for a spate of applications for skyscrapers across the borough to be given the green light.
At the planning committee meeting this Wednesday (20 February) the application for the linked 55 and 45 storey towers at Portal Way in North Acton - once described as a 'monstrosity' by Ealing MP Rupa Huq was approved.
The tower blocks will replace the Holiday Inn with 702 flats a hotel and restaurant which campaigners say will be visible from Richmond Park and Harrow On The Hill.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball said, '' I voted for the two tall schemes last night in Portal Way. It's an area designated for tall buildings and we need the affordable housing. The slightly taller proposal on the Holiday Inn site in particular is very well designed with two towers linked by bridges. The other one has a better genuinely affordable proportion So the merits of both were strong.''
On the other hand there is mounting opposition throughout the borough with residents believing that many proposed developments are not being adequately publicised and in many cases consultation lacking.
A number of residents groups including Ealing Matters and Stop The Towers are now coming together to get their voices heard and are planning to protest outside the last full council meeting next week before Greater London Authority (GLA) elections.
Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq who has spoken out against such high-rise developments in the past said, ''When a 'no to overdevelopment' candidate stood against me two elections ago, declaring 'We want to live in Acton, not Manhattan', I agreed. In fact, he folded his candidacy in favour of me in the end, but there is still a long list of present and future horrors is coming the way of Ealing’s planning committee which this is just the latest of.
'' I have no formal role in planning committee decisions but relaxed planning restrictions are all stacked against residents, they threaten trees and greenery, with the developer-led 'presumption to build' thrust of policy ushering in bulldozers, incentivising high-rise projects and challenging notions of suburbs as low density, which is the kind of thing people used to like about them.
''I was encouraged to hear in the Queen’s Speech that planning applications will eventually have to prove biodiversity net gain before approval is given—that is, they will need to demonstrate that they are leaving nature in a better state than before. It was clearly flouted in the case of the recent Durston House application to concrete and AstroTurf over a field however. I was dismayed and will be writing to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to object."
She met with James Murray the Ealing North MP and the “Stop the Towers” campaign opposing the crop of tall towers proposed for West Ealing which she says are completely antithetical to the low-rise Edwardian skyline that people love that area for. She is also raising concerns with Ealing Council about the way the consultations for these developments are being handled and how planning notices are publicised.
Other developments given the green-light by the majority of councillors on the committee include an application to add an additional foyer with 15 storeys above at the front of Ealing Broadway Premier Inn on Uxbridge Road.
Councillors also agreed to 149 flats in blocks up to 15 storeys behind the Red Lion pub in Southall, and 5,6 and 7 storeys replacing a derelict warehouse in Kingsbridge Crescent.
A protest about the scale of development in the borough will be taking place Tuesday 25 February from 6pm-7pm at Ealing Town Hall. Campaigners say many people felt they wanted to let Ealing Council know their feelings about the "plethora of skyscrapers and explosion of massive over development currently happening in Ealing.''
February 20th 2020