'We Will Not Roll Over' Oaks Reaction

Former Chair of Churchfield Community Association Sara Nathan:


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I was shocked but not surprised by the decision at the Ealing Council planning meeting yesterday.

It was apparent, once I knew that Acton Central's Councillor Abdullah Gulaid would not be on the Labour benches, that this would be effectively a whipped vote. And that's how it turned out. The seven Labour councillors - none of them from the affected ward - supported these essentially flawed plans.

Many things concern me about the process:

The Council owning the car park on which the development depends, now, as a consequence of the decision, much more valuable, which is in fact if not in law a conflict of interest.

The fear expressed by one of the Labour councillors during the meeting that the developer would appeal a negative decision – this fear became a reason for supporting the plans.

Public support of Julian Bell – council leader and lead for regeneration - for the plans and his politicising of the issue

The exclusion of more than 80 members of the public from the chamber even though the council had due notice of a large number of would-be auditors.

All these are shocking but make the result a forgone conclusion.

Of course, the fact that the plan is so sub-standard, so old-fashioned in plonking a gated community, with no public realm, in the heart of an increasingly thriving community, just makes it worse.

It's not that locals wouldn't welcome both redevelopment and a Waitrose store – we would welcome both. But this dense, massive development with its tower right on Churchfield Road is not what Acton needs.

We want something that allows a connection with the High Street, that encourages a free flow of people through, that is of a comparable scale to the surrounding Victorian buildings and surrounding conservation areas. What we get is a squatting monster built for minimum cost and maximum profit with no consideration for its impact locally.

At the meeting, the council's explanations of how the impact of this scheme will be ameliorated were confusing and, in parts, just plain wrong – for example, the traffic impact was illustrated with incorrect slides. The effect of the development on the surrounding area and its infrastructure was hardly dealt with.

Ealing Council and its planning committee have served the people of Acton very poorly by this decision. We do not intend to roll over and let this go ahead.

Sara Nathan


17th October 2013



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