Planning Inspectorate Overrules Ealing Council

Decision bound to be unpopular with local protesters

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Residents and businesses expressed shock this week after the Government Planning Inspectorate announced they were over-ruling Ealing Council and granting planning permission to build 14 flats and 2 offices, replacing the existing building (housing 6 dwellings) at 107-111 Churchfield Road.

Councillors at an Ealing Council Planning Committee last October had unanimously rejected the plans, to the relief of residents' associations and neighbours who would be directly affected by the development.

The appeal was made by A Miller of Palmfield Ltd, the developer. David Leeming, a Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State was officiating over the proceedings and Ms Noreen Dunn represented Ealing Council.

The Inspector's letter argues against all the points put forward by Ealing Council justifying their decision not to grant planning permission. He argued against all the points they made supporting their case.

The Council's case was that the new building would have an "unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area (including the adjacent Acton Town Centre Conservation Area) by reason of its height, bulk, massing and its terracing effect in relation to adjacent buildings" and also that the new building did not comply with UDP requirements in respect of disabled parking. (The new building would have no parking provision), were.

However, the Inspector's decision argues that, despite the fact that the new building would be five storeys instead of three, this would only increase its height "by about 2 metres" since the floor to ceiling heights are reduced.

He also said that, despite the disparity in height between the new building and its neighbouring buildings, because of the "somewhat uneven stepping up in heights" of surrounding properties the impact of the new development would "not be visually intrusive."

The Inspector also said that whereas Council Policy stipulates disabled parking in new developments, its transport policy also encourages "access on foot, by wheelchair and
bicycle and to maximise public transport use by visitors, employees and residents." As the new accomodation would be parking free, this complies with part of Ealing Council's transport policy.

Local Councillor Vlod Barchuk, who spoke at the Ealing Council Planning Committee and at the Government Inspectorate Hearing told us: " I'm very surprised and disappointed by the inspector's decision.

"He has played down all the areas where the application breaches planning guidelines. One wonders what is the point of having guidelines when they can be set aside in such a manner."

Sandy Stagg, who owns the Vintage Home Store next door to the development said: "I have no idea how they will manage to physically carry out the works on such a narrow and busy stretch of Churchfield Road. I am devastated by this news and don't know what else we can do about it. I am also amazed that the Government Planning Inspector has sided with the original Planning Inspector at Ealing Council who seemed to have got things terribly wrong in his assessment of this case."

Another resident told us: "One thing is for sure - if this new development goes ahead it will change the face of Churchfield Road and bring unwelcome disruption to everyone trying to run businesses nearby."

June 20, 2008