Another Churchfield Road Development Rejected

"Tears of relief" for residents' representative after meeting

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Residents and councillors in front of 107-111 Churchfield Rd

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During a Planning Committee meeting last night at Ealing Town Hall, Councillors unanimously rejected a proposal by developers to rebuild a block at 107-111 Churchfield Road.

Their rejection delighted watching residents and representatives of the Churchfield Community Association (CCA) and the Acton Central Poets Corner Residents' Association (ACPCRA). One councillor on the committee, Ian Potts (Ealing Broadway) commented: "Never in my 20 years on planning committees have I seen a report with so many negative comments, yet still proposed for acceptance." Sandy Stagg, who spoke on behalf of residents, told us today that she had wept after the hearing and spoke of the strain she had lived with for the past few weeks: "In my entire 67 years I don't think I have ever before cried tears of relief."  

Last weekend, around 30 local residents had shown their concern by attending the site visit where councillors were shown what the impact of the development would be.  

Sandy Stagg, whose shop the Vintage Home Store is next to the property in question, addressing the committee with the support of the CCA and the ACPCRA, spoke of the 'dominating block', and how plans to increase the height and depth of the building would affect those living on either side and at the back. She gave a number of reasons why the development would be unwelcome. Ms Stagg pointed out that the drawings were misleading, that the new building would have windows overlooking neighbours' properties where now they are frosted over, and that there was inadequate transport provision for the property.  

She ended her comments by saying that the unique character of Churchfield Road should be preserved and enhanced.  

Alvin Ormond, speaking on behalf of the agent P&R Associates and for the architect of the scheme who was unable to be at the meeting, said that all of the concerns voiced at the site meeting had since been amended on the plans. Alex Jackson for Ealing Council, who is a team leader for local business and residential planning, worked valiantly to try to justify why the amendments had brought the development into line with council policy. She said that the urban design officer had approved the adjustments to the scheme. However, her arguments were no match for the trenchant comments from the planning committee councillors.  

Acton Central's Cllr Vlod Barchuk then spoke against the development. He had obviously spent a large amount of time researching the impact if the proposed building, which was increasing the current 6 to 14 dwellings. Cllr Barchuk started by saying that the proposals were "over development above normal guidelines". He said the resulting building would look as if it was "elbowing its way in" to a victorian terrace of shops rather than filling in a gap and that the proposed development would "push the site beyond what it can accomodate". Cllr Barchuk also pointed out that the proposals amounted to an extension, for which council planning policy and regulations are much stricter than for new developments. He also spoke impressively about plot ratios.  

East Acton Cllr Kate Crawford pointed out that the development was situated next door to a sensitive, designated conservation area. She called the planned building "overbearing" and was concerned that children growing up there would be a problem due to the restricted garden space and the long distance from the nearest park. Ealing Common Cllr Jon Ball agreed that there would be no question of such a proposal receiving approval if it were inside a conservation area. He also referred to Ealing Council's own UDP policy which recommends retaining existing buildings where possible.  

Cllr Potts then summed up the mood of many of the residents present with his straightforward remarks about the "damning" content of the report making the planners' recommendation an unexpected one.  

Residents pledged afterwards to keep battling to preserve the character of Churchfield Road. Barbara Mullarney, of ACPCRA expressed surprise that an urban design officer had recommended the plans for approval. "Anybody looking at the plans could have realised that the existing building should be preserved rather than replaced with a completely inappropriate building, least of all an urban design officer."

October 18, 2007