Meena Toor reports on last night's Oaks decision
Ealing Council's planning committee voted in favour of two proposals, which left campaigners and residents shouting “political suicide” and “shame on you” in outrage from the public gallery on Wednesday 16th October.
The proposals under discussion were the redevelopment of Oaks Shopping Center and the demolition of the western wall to St. Mary’s burial ground.
Opposing was Douglas Carnegie, from the Churchfield Community Association, who called the plans “seriously shoddy”.
Reverend David Brammer, the rector for St. Mary’s Church and the landowner for the burial ground affected, said that he was concerned for the “legacy” of the area and advised the committee to “be bold. Throw out this development as it stands”.
The calls to reject the application centred on complaints against the suitability and appearance of the development for the surrounding conservation area, with worries about density of living and traffic.
Speaking in favour of the plans, Ben Rogers, for the applicants (Maddox Association) denied the claim that the development would be gated.
He said the scheme would address potential delivery congestion.
Although the possibility of Waitrose moving in was discounted as irrelevant to the discussion by several planning committee members, Rogers did mention that Waitrose wanted “Oaks or nothing”.
John Bourne of the Acton Regeneration Committee said that the traders would say that the “high street is in a bad way” and that Waitrose would recruit locally and work with the local Job centre plus. He also said that 22% of the housing would be affordable.
A presentation followed by Jackie Straker and Alex Jackson, with assistance from the developer, Steve Austin, and Francis Torto from the Transport Development Team.
Diagrams illustrated where links and development would take place, providing visual designs and constructed model photos.
Councillor Mark Reen stressed that the site was “difficult” and “important”. Councillor Colm Costello cautioned against haste in approving phase one, not knowing what phase two will bring, saying “you should never buy a pig in a bag”.
Steve Austin confirmed that the development broke no rules and had support from English Heritage and other organisations, after the original proposal was revised to take into account planning concerns.
The final verdict was 7-6 in favour of the Oaks redevelopment, 9-3 and in favour of the wall demolition.
During the debate, the committee stated that the decision would be made on planning law, opposed to any political agenda.
Ealing Council Leader, Julian Bell, said on Twitter that the “planning committee sophisticated enough to understand they make their decision on planning grounds not regen benefits”.
Following the announcement, approximately 40 campaigners walked out angry and disappointed from the gallery, not counting the 64 campaigners who were turned away from entering, due to fire safety regulations.
Particular anger was directed to Councillor Kate Crawford of East Acton for asking only one question about the type of material “cladding” used and “what form it would take?” She voted in favour of both proposals, despite attending an Acton rally held on Saturday 12th October against the plans.
Reverend David Brammer said he was “very disappointing” and “sadly, the legacy looks like it’s one that’s not to listen to the views of those who actually live in the community.”
Acton resident, Anne Brown added that nothing was said about a junction at
Market Place/Churchfield Road, which she called “an accident waiting to happen”.
Ealing Council Leader, Julian Bell, has commented on Twitter that the arrival of Waitrose would amount to “500 jobs & £40m” for the local residents.
Local MP, Angie Bray MP also reacted on Twitter “disappointed planning consent granted 2the Oaks shopping development in #Acton. Let's see if we can take local residents' case2City Hall.”
17th October 2013