I was surprised and pleased to read the news about the deferral of he massive town centre development scheme. Presumably some Labour councillors voted against the scheme — good for them. Anybody know who they were? The thought struck me that, despite what Stop The Towers say about there being a conflict of interest in the council having to consider its own application, it is probably more difficult to get them through. This is because councillors have often in the past felt obliged to vote in favour of a bad scheme because they know refusal would only result in a lengthy and expensive legal battle which the developer would win. As there is presumably no chance of the council taking itself to court the councillors on the planning committee have more leeway to vote in the broader public interest. If this proves to be true it might just be the last we see of this particular scheme but only time will tell.
Gordon Southwell ● 241d39 Comments
Ealing Council got a £99million grant from the GLA for house building. It could have spent this on traditional council housing, as other boroughs have done. Instead it’s gone the ‘affordable’ route, which is well beyond the means of those most in need of low cost housing.But, as we know, there’s no profit in that for their developer chums.
Simon Hayes ● 225d
Shurely shome mishtake?They're all dyed in the wool, true, "For the people" Worker Socialists, and vehemently Anti Capitalist.Aren't they? 🤣
Rosco White ● 225d
When Mayor Khan decided to run for Mayor, he stated at several press and public Q7As that he would be bringing to the end the selling of properties overseas and the tax loops involved by insisting that all new developments must be sold to fully legitimate residents of the UK.Then he went very quiet on that.He won't be getting my vote again. Nor anyone else who won't commit to this.
Raymond Havelock ● 225d
Meanwhile back in the real world rather than la la land which some local Labour party supporters occupy.......(list of course la la land provides them with a very comfortable income from multiple public sector jobs).
N V Brooks ● 225d
Perhaps the Govt should now come up with the money which was taken by the Treasury for selling off Council housing and which should obviously have been ring-fenced for truly affordable housing?
Philippa Bond ● 225d
The block behind mine is advertised as affordable housing which is a joke at £550k and £600k who on a low income can afford these is beyond me. Many of these flats have been sold to overseas investors they are just built to cover for Khans failure to build any kind of housing for people earning 25k or less.
Tony Maxey ● 226d
They'll all be advertised across Asia and will be snapped up. Meanwhile my two 30+ year olds with good jobs are having to move miles away so they can get on the slippery path to home ownership.
peter king ● 226d
Not many "affordable" properties in this little lot either:
The council is truly off it's collective rocker!
Tony Colliver ● 226d
A "lowest" price of £657,600 for a one bed flat:
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/find.html?locationIdentifier=POSTCODE%5E921400&sortType=1&propertyTypes=&includeSSTC=true&mustHave=&dontShow=&furnishTypes=&keywords= I should cocoa!
Tony Colliver ● 226d
I'm really not sure where the council thinks it is going to sell all these new flats:
Tony Colliver ● 226d
A2Dominion deregistered as a Charity about a decade ago. The Board now take huge renumeration and preferential land deals struck between Ealing and other boroughs.Very cost relationships with several local authorities and a very dodgy deal for a Council leader who happens to be running the same borough from which A2D has profited.Plenty of noses in the trough but quite why this has not been investigated is a sad indictment of what this free and fair society has really become.
Raymond Havelock ● 226d
I know that local authorities often act as developer and planning authority. The danger with this development is it’s utterly inappropriate for the location and the council has been complicit in trying to cover this up. The planning pictures are a joke, with the largest element - the 26 storey tower - hidden behind trees or buildings.I don’t think the Acton towers at Portal Way are going to be student accommodation. There’s a hotel going in there too.The council has been ‘considering’ CIL since 2016. I’m sure the failure to bring it in has nothing to do with the increased costs it would bring developers for their huge towers.As you point out affordability is a problem. All this building yet the housing shortage for those who need them isn’t diminishing.A2Dominion? Bell is a tenant of theirs (despite owning his own house). Mahfouz works for them. Very cosy.
Simon Hayes ● 227d
It is not unusual for a council to submit a planning application for which it is the planning authority. This isn't an Ealing thing.
Section 106 has largely been replaced by the Community Infrastructure Levy. Don't know what would have been payable for Perceval House but it would probably have been quite a lot.
As far as I am aware the North Acton towers are largely student accommodation.
For me the big problem with housing policy, not just in Ealing, is the notion that 'genuinely affordable' units are in some way comparable to social housing. Ealing justify their breakneck housing programme as a social good because it is dealing with a shortage. The reality is that most of these homes, even with some sort of discount, are only affordable to the relatively well off. However, if they failed to meet these bogus affordability targets they would lose funding. Like so much in local government what happens is driven by central government policy.
What should be giving residents misgivings is the relationship with A2Dominion which is far too close for comfort. There is a notion that this company is somewhat akin to a charity when in fact it is a very large property business. It is already the dominant housing supplier in the borough and their role is only likely to grow. The ability of the council to put the interests of residents above the interests of this company can't be taken for granted.
Gordon Southwell ● 227d
The mischief is that Ealing is also the planning authority and therefore supposed to look at plans objectively. Total conflict of interest here.What’s also noticeable is the absence of s106 contributions locally. Don’t see much infrastructure going in to support these schemes. The two massive towers in Acton (55 and 45 storeys respectively) are literally standing on a traffic island next to the A40. I don’t know anyone who thinks that’s a ‘great place to live’.The reality is these are council tax farms. Bell and co don't really care if they are occupied or not. Developers make their money. Ealing gets more tax revenue.
Simon Hayes ● 227d
Technically Gordon is correct and that exposes the flaws in the system.This is a headache for planners working for a Borough but useful for planners working for developers or consulting as it creates a grey area to make a living from.But the sheer complexity means it is almost impossible to lodge a pertinent objection which has any gravitas. One has to be fully familiar with planning laws and procedures and then some on top.Even retired planners struggle with some of this but can understand a working planner not being keen to get involved as it could damage that persons whole livelihood.So for ordinary residents, objecting from the perspective of reality is futile and even more aggravating when these objections bear out to be correct in their predictions and concerns.But what can exists is a firm and clear policy by a Borough to not entertain such applications.Unfortunately Ealings administration has been at the forefront of hawking the Borough at places like Cannes along with Hounslow and far too keen to prove Ealing to developers as a 'Can Do' Borough.This really is morally corrupt and not in the interests of those who voted them to run the basics of a borough.There are Boroughs who choose not to pursue this policy and are not allowing their towns to fall prey.So there are things that can be done to minimise these applications.LBE, by being the proposer of this one is not far short of a crime against the Town and it's existing residents. Certainly a reckless act of wanton vandalism.Interesting to just how many behind these schemes end up working for developers and other allied businesses.
Raymond Havelock ● 227d
Whatever you might say the requirement for planning officers to follow planning law is a fact.
There is a flaw in the system in that developers will have expensive planning consultants and legal advice which will often have more knowledge and experience than borough planning officers. Although Ealing has a very high turnover in its planning department and therefore probably has less accumulated experience than many other boroughs the mismatch between the local authority and the applicant is a national problem.
However, if as you say, planning law was cherry-picked and rules ignored any application benefitting from such laxity could be successfully challenged.
People like Victor Mishiku have successfully managed to do this through the application process. However, in many cases it is a question of local or London plan guidance being ignored which is not necessarily a breach of the law.
The combination of a weak planning department and an administration that is keen to meet its housing start targets because future funding is dependent on them doing so probably does mean that developers get an easier ride than they should but the notion that Ealing Council blatantly approves schemes that they know to be illegal is nonsense.
Gordon Southwell ● 227d
Gordon, you make an excellent point. The key here then is that councillors can make any decisions they like, knowing that the borough won't be taken to court but there will probably be endless resubmissions of this scheme.I hadn't realised how different this was from other applications.
Phil Kay ● 228d
Maybe there’s a fundamental principle of what’s proportionate and appropriate. Of course there needs to be new house building, but clearly the dwellings that are going up are only suitable for a certain demographic.These are not, on the whole, family homes.These are not, on the whole, affordable to the people who most need housing.These are not, on the whole, sympathetic to the places in which they are being built or proposed.These are not, on the whole, solving the ‘housing crisis’.These are not, on the whole, being supported with the infrastructure required to help a community flourish and thrive.What they are doing, evidently, is allowing developers to cash in on space in Ealing that once built on is no longer available for more appropriate development.
Simon Hayes ● 228d
I don't buy that, it's all complete BS and so obviously contrived & manipulated.Ealing Planning are infamous for cherry picking Planning Rules which suit their "purposes", and completely ignoring Planning Rules which might "trump" their intentions.Very informed individuals like the valiant Victor Mishiku, Libby Kemp and Others are far more informed than me and can cite numerous examples of Ealing Planning's perverse arguments & decisions which all too often are contradictory and make no sense.Do not buy their "Our hands are tied, it's Planning Law, we'll get sued, etc, etc", it's all total BS.Just like the Council Labour Administration.
Rosco White ● 228d
In planning matters it will be planning law that will take precedence not what council tax payers want so the councillors often find their hand are tied. Councillors who think a scheme is bad news for their area will often be told by borough planners that should a scheme be rejected without valid legal reasons simply because it is unpopular, there would be a risk that the borough would get sued leading to a huge legal bill.
As I said at the start of this thread. the irony of the Perceval House scheme is that councillors, may be able to reflect the will of their constituents because, you would assume, the council isn't going to sue itself.
Ultimately whether we like it or not more tall buildings are coming to the borough because London is asked to take on more than its far share of government housing start targets because the green belt remains sacrosanct.
Gordon Southwell ● 228d
Councillors in general, do not have the brains or the ability or the experience ( tick where applicable) to dream these schemes and policies up.They do though buy into these schemes far to easily and vote too easily on these things too often. I think it's because it's too much effort wading through all the guff, especially if it's not anywhere near their ward or district.So reliance is left to recommendations or those who have an interest pushing them.But who are these people in LBE and outside of LBE who are really behind all these plans?Why are they not answerable to the Council Tax payers who pay their salaries?Why are councillors not asking more questions of them?It's not transparent enough for issues with such massive implications.
Raymond Havelock ● 231d
Yes, and Ealing Town Hall to be given to Mastcraft on a 250 year lease as well. Consider that if you buy a leasehold flat it’s not likely to have a term longer than 125 years.
Simon Hayes ● 231d
Ealing council have form here, think Warren Farm and QPR, 250 year lease there if I remember rightly
peter king ● 232d
More like they’ve made promises to partners they cant keep. 250 years for a lease is ridiculous.
Simon Hayes ● 232d
Trying to get permission in before the Building Safety Bill goes through Parliament?
Philippa Bond ● 232d
Planning Application for Perceval House will be before Planning Committee on March 10th or 11th, a few more family homes, not sure if they are affordable, no proper fire strategy, units to rent for artist and start-ups joke! And the site given to the developers for 250 years - what a deal! or perhaps steal may be a better word.
Libby Kemp ● 232d
As I had posted an objection to the redevelopment at the council's HQ, I received an update today saying that the developers have amended their proposals. They are putting up the number of 'socially affordable' flats in an attempt to get the nod from the council. I wonder if Bellend will get his way now and the Gotham City he wants in Ealing becomes a reality?
peter king ● 233d
Good point very well made. We took off the external closers and had internal chain ones fitted to the doors which work well.
N V Brooks ● 237d
Nigel, I don't disagree with your overall assessment of the quality of workmanship in the UK but would point out, for intumescent strips to work in a fire situation they need to expand and seal the gap between door and frame. That is the door needs to be shut at all times when not actually in use. So not really a choice between door closers or intumescent strips - you need both.
Philip Coe ● 237d
The problem with poor quality workmanship has been going on for years unfortunately. When we had our loft extension built it was conditional that all doors on the first floor and the ground floor were one hour rated fire doors with either door closers or intumescent strips.We went for the intumescent strips which seal in the event of the door getting warm as the builder said most people simply take the door closers off once the building has been inspected. He was well aware of plenty of installations where fire doors has been fitted to the first floor and then removed completely after the building has been inspected as there was no follow-up inspection so a year later as was meant to happen.
N V Brooks ● 237d
All the problems go back to the lack of social housing. Being forced to sell off social housing and with nearly all of the money going straight to the Treasury instead of being able to take and use the money gained to build new housing has left Councils with the responsibility of housing many people but not having the funds to do so. They spend a lot of resources trying to find homes for people and moving them from place to place - something which is no good for creating communities and no good for children's continuity of education or any continuity of care for anyone and where people lose touch with any family and community they do have. This leads to Councils trying to get what they need from the buildings and land that they already have by making deals with developers. Developers make more when they have more units.Since I watched the Dangerous Cladding Debate I have watched a webinar presentation explaining about fire doors and showing pictures of doors that have been failed. Unbelievable number of faults. I can understand now why architects and other specifiers specify door sets. Mismatched leaves, doors not fitted square and then bodged to try and make them fit, lack of seals around them and around any holes cut in them, closers that don't work etc etc. Some of these were in hospitals. It is really frightening that people who are elderly or infirm could have been put so at risk by being in tall buildings not safeguarded through poor workmanship and/or lack of maintenance. Some Building Regs have now been changed and there is a Fire Bill returning to the Commons shortly. It doesn't matter what the regulations are though if they are either difficult to follow or not followed at all."And then of top it is how people treat property. Much gets very poorly treated through rough use and poor housekeeping."People need to be aware that if they mistreat property or alter it they may put themselves as well as other people in danger.When there is a lack of administration or continuity in administration or good enough administration this also creates problems and dangers. Buildings need regular inspections by people who really understand what they are inspecting and why and not just ticking boxes.https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/a6ac5191-f789-42ba-a63f-71e9c65ffbb6?in=15:38:38It follows another debate - on Defence and isn't indexed. Many MPs of difference parties telling of the problems their constituent leaseholders have with faulty buildings.
Philippa Bond ● 237d
As I already said this goes back over 70 years now. And Cladding is a tiny part of it.Private lower cost housing is affected with failings way too early.Damp, Rot, subsidence, Asbestos concrete, wrong mixes of bonding agents, failing double glazing, poor air circulation damp , mould and condensation issues.And all very expensive to put right and often not successfully.And then of top it is how people treat property. Much gets very poorly treated through rough use and poor housekeeping.
Raymond Havelock ● 238d
I watched the Dangerous Cladding Debate in Parliament the other week. MPs from all parties with constituents who are in the dreadful situation of not being able to sleep because their flats have been deemed dangerous and they have to pay to have a waking watch which is costly - and that is without all the remediation work that now needs to be done on their flats. Each MP was telling of their constituents, the leaseholders, and the problems they have encountered including not being able to find out who the offshore owners of the building are.The problem is much greater than just cladding. There are other faults and there are a lot of buildings involved.Project specific subsidary companies are often created just for the construction of one building to protect the parent company from liability. So if things go wrong the liabilities stay with the subsidiary company which may then fold.Once completed buildings are often sold to offshore investment companies who have no interest in addressing the faults.Interestingly the Conservatives had obviously been whipped to abstain from voting.England & Wales Building Regulations have had some changes made to them since Grenfell. However there are very many more buildings which need reappraisal because apart from the cladding it seems that Grenfell also threw up issues with other forms of fire protection in recently constructed towers.An interesting proposal for the funding of the necessary remedial work is contained in the following Youtube discussion.It has a very good introduction giving an overview of the situation by Martina Lees a journalist with The Times and Sunday Times.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fo_j4xEayA
Philippa Bond ● 239d
Phillippa,Where do you think all the money comes for all these ideas?All these initiatives are not just expensive they are highly expensive.We are going to have a decade of far lower tax revenues from the lower employment and reduced incomes that are already happening for millions.Most of this has long been known, British building standards are way behind and housing stock of last 70 years poor. Bad design and poor quality.Yet the UK often leads the way with innovations but cannot produce the enduring quality or cost effectiveness. Profit, consultants, red tape and other costs eat into the material costs. So corners get cut but share dividends don't.Then we see what happens when innovative materials get deployed and the specifications get interfered with. Grenfell the worst, but the back catalogue is massive. Particularly with social housing and corporate builds.It's closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.Now we will have to have a long period of make do and mend.
Raymond Havelock ● 239d
Retrofit should be the way forward. The AJ Retrofit Awards is coming up.A lot of our existing housing needs updating.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VuEQ6A3MhY
Philippa Bond ● 240d
Common sense alone says overdensification is dangerous. Covid now underlines it.Other ways of finding better housing and better ways of living have to be sought and really it's good quality new towns and a better spread of the UK economy with proper transport links which has been half baked since the end of WW2.
Raymond Havelock ● 241d