Bitter Blow For Oaks Campaigners

Mayor will not step in on planning decision



The Oaks

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The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, will not intervene over the Oaks planning decision.

In a decison that will disappoint campaigners, Mr Johnson has ruled out any further involvement in the application and is now leaving it in the hands of Ealing Council.

This morning was told by the Mayor's press spokesperson:

'' I can confirm that the Mayor was content for Ealing Council to determine the case itself and chose not to call it in or refuse it.''

Acton Regeneration Company (ARC) has issued this statement:

'' In his decision, the Mayor has reinforced the fact that amendments have been made to the proposal relating to residential quality, design, scale and massing and affordable housing over the last two years, acknowledging that these have led to significant improvements to the scheme. Acton Regeneration Company is looking forward to starting work on what will be a vibrant and exciting development for Acton later in 2014”

In October, Ealing Council gave the go-ahead to ARC for 142 homes (nine storey building) a multi-storey car park and new retail space in the town centre.

The scheme has proved unpopular in the area with local celebrities joining residents in an energetic campaign to try and change the current plans.

Critics had hoped the Mayor would have backed their case and today's news will be a bitter blow.

Doug Carnegie from the Oaks Action Group says they are angry:

'We worked hard to focus less on the fact that Acton residents overwhelmingly loathed it than on its almost willful failure to stick to well-publicised planning rules and guidelines. It wasn't just that people didn't like its Soviet-style monolithic design. It was disliked largely because it ignored Local Development Plan guidelines, which now appear not to be worth the paper they're written on.

'So too with Boris's powers. The Mayor's office insist the London Plan is "the Bible" in these matters. Yet despite this tawdry scheme far exceeding London Plan density levels, the Boris ruling says these shouldn't now be regarded as "proscriptive."

'This bending of rules to benefit developers has been the most depressing constant in the whole process. From the shameful no-reasons-given decision by a single vote of Ealing Labour councillors in October, to the lame no-reasons-given sign-off by a Conservative Mayor, democracy has been a big loser in all this.

'But we're a stubborn bunch and we haven't lost faith in the power of argument. So we'll lick our wounds and go again - to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles. There's also the option of a Judicial Review.'

Ealing Central and Acton Conservative MP, Angie Bray, who opposes the current scheme, agrees that the battle isn't over yet:

'' "This is obviously very disappointing news. I understand that the Mayor felt unable to intervene due to constraints on his powers. He would be unable to reverse a decision taken locally unless he was advised that it contradicted his overall London Plan.

''This means that Acton faces the consequences of an appalling planning decision, pushed through by Labour-led Ealing Council. I am this morning going to try one further possible route, which is to write to the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, to see whether he feels that this wholly unsuitable development plan and the way that the decision was arrived at should be called in for further review.

''I have asked the local residents who have been campaigning so vigorously against this scheme to prepare a briefing for Mr Pickles, which my office will be sending off this morning with a covering letter from me."


More reaction as we get it.





19th December 2013