MP blasts 'presumption to build' after Portal Way tower blocks get go-ahead
CGI of the two Portal Way towers
There has been more anger after Ealing Council gave the go-ahead to two huge skyscrapers in North Acton one of which is set to be one of the tallest in London.
At the planning committee meeting on Wednesday (20 February) the application for the linked 55 and 45 storey towers at Portal Way - 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.
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 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 took place outside Ealing Council meeting on Tuesday (25th February)
Justine Sullivan who is one of the originators of the Stop The Towers group said:
''We had Representatives from Southall, Hanwell, West Acton residents, North Acton, Perivale, Friary Park as well as active Ealing residents groups DCA, Five Roads, GRASS, CERA, Ealing Civic Society, Save Victoria Hall, Stop The Towers, Save Gurnell and Ealing Matters all joining forces under one Stop The Towers Ealing group. Members from Extinction Rebellion and the Green party also attended expressing their concerns at the environmental impact the over development will have on our borough.
''People were saying it was the largest protest they’d ever seen outside the town hall, which was great considering it had been raining and it was a very cold night. We need to get the message over to the council that we feel that Ealing’s Not Listening to the concerns of its own residents. People are upset and people are very angry. Their concerns are not heard and the council seem to be giving every high rise development the green light.''
An Ealing Council spokesperson said: “North Acton sits within the Old Oak Common Mayoral Development Corporation, and considering its proximity to transport infrastructure has been identified as an area that has the ability to accommodate significant housing growth.
''Tall buildings are an increasing trend across London’s skyline, as demand for new homes continues to increase across the capital. With continued constraint on the supply of new land, and not enough government funding for affordable house building at the scale required, Ealing like all authorities is reliant on the private sector to deliver the majority of new homes within the borough.
“Ealing’s Planning Committee gave consent to a number of schemes brought forward by private developers on Wednesday. We continue to seek the maximum levels of affordable homes that the London Plan and National Planning Policy Framework allows for.”
A number of residents groups including Ealing Matters and Stop The Towers are now coming together to get their voices heard.
February 27, 2020 (updated)