Friary Park Scheme 'Cannot Proceed' Due to FoI Rule Breach
Cap the Towers claims council failed to document meetings with the developer
A campaign group opposed to the massive scheme to redevelop the Friary Park Estate is claiming that rule breaches relating to the Freedom of Information(FoI) Act mean the planning application cannot proceed.
The joint proposal by Mount Anvil and Catalyst to expand the development from 990 flats to 1,228 was discussed with council planners last year at eight separate meetings before the application was submitted. It is normal for such meetings to take place to allow guidance to be given on which elements of a proposal may prove problematic unless amended. Councils often charge for giving such advice.
The current proposals are based on an earlier application for which permission was received in November 2020. In the latest design, height, footprint and massing are increased with some of the towers made taller but none beyond the already approved height of 24 storeys for two of the towers. Under the latest scheme seven buildings in the development will be over 14 storeys high with one increased to 17 storeys.
The Cap The Towers group made a request under the FoI Act for the documents relating to discussions on this proposal to be published. The council was able to decline publication prior to the submission of the planning application but, now that it has been made, it must provide the documents requested.
However, the recently published response to the request revealed that none of the pre-application meetings were documented which Cap The Towers says is both in breach of Local Government Association rules and a violation of the FoI Act which requires that a record be kept of all such meetings.
The group has issued a statement saying, “This secretive and underhand action by Ealing Council sits uneasily with the claims of the Council Leader, Peter Mason, that he is running an ‘open and transparent Council’.”
Cap the Towers maintains that while the Council remains in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, there can be no question of this planning application proceeding to the Planning Committee for their consideration.
The reference for the scheme on the Ealing Council planning portal is 221747HYBRID.
Ealing Council has been approached for comment.
September 8, 2022