Angry Reaction As Perceval House Development Approved
Green light for 26 storey tower block despite 2,000 objections
A virtual meeting of the Ealing borough planning committee finally approved the controversial Perceval House development this Wednesday night (10 March).
The live stream of the discussion and vote was plagued with technical problems but seven councillors voted for the scheme with three against (Cllrs Young, Sumner, Conlan) three abstained (Cllrs Anand, Wall and Busuttil). The approval came despite over 2,000 objections being lodged against the scheme which will include a 26 storey tower.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said, “The decision by Ealing’s planning committee is a step forward for this scheme which will bring more much-needed genuinely affordable housing into Ealing Town centre. It will also build smaller, cost-effective council offices, confirming the council’s continued presence in Ealing town centre supporting local businesses.
“The world and our way of working has changed significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ability for staff to work flexibly and for council services to be delivered in different ways means that our office needs have changed, which will save money for both the council, and local council tax-payers.”
The council had infuriated local campaigners by bringing the planning application back to the committee just a few weeks after the committee had deferred the decision over concerns about the lack of family housing in the scheme with only 7 of the 477 flats having three bedrooms.
New designs were submitted in which the number of one bedroom and three bedroom units was increased at the expense of two bedroom units.
One of the local residents who had been campaigning against the development said, “This is exactly what we feared would happen. Everyone could see that the changes were entirely cosmetic and didn’t deal with the concerns raised but it allowed them time to flip the extra vote they needed to get approval.”
Cllr Joanna Dabrowska, Conservative Planning Spokesperson, who was not a rostered member on last night’s planning committee, said on Twitter,“Tonight’s #planningcommittee is an utter embarrassment to the #townplanning industry. How not to bring a planning application to committee, how not to run such committee, and how not to know the answers to basic planning questions.”
A series of videos has been made by elderly residents of Apsley House on Grange Road which the chair of the planning committee refused to have shown at the meeting. Located on Longfield Avenue adjacent to the Town Hall, Apsley House is housing for people aged 55 and over who occupied council or housing association homes with one or more spare bedrooms. Current residents are predominantly pensioners in their 70s, 80s and some in their 90s; many of whom are house bound with health issues.
Shirley, an Apsley House resident, says that she was delighted when she was given the opportunity to move there but from day one her life has been disrupted by noise from building work and now the Perceval House development will deprive her of all natural day-light. She says, “We have been duped from day one, we were never told the truth.”
Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq addressed the meeting, reaffirming her opposition to the scheme as did Cllr Seema Kumar, Ealing Broadway Councillor, who said afterwards, “The decision of the Labour Councillors to support the redevelopment of Perceval House at the expense of residents’ quality of life and well-being has come to define Labour’s view on housing: the taller, the better, quality and residents do not matter.
” Hundreds of residents, many over 70, and in their 80’s and some over 90 will be totally overwhelmed by this monster block. Yet, their videos outlining the negative impact the development would have on their health and quality of life was not allowed to be played. They speak very powerfully and convey truth to power but were denied a voice by the very people entrusted to give them a voice. One said as citizens, voters and constituents do we not matter.
“Labour’s support for this redevelopment is everything that is wrong with the Labour party; blind to developers’ greed; deaf to residents’ concerns and, dumb to the environmental impact.”
Perceval House is the council’s main office accommodation in Ealing Broadway town centre. Ealing Council has partnered with Vistry on the redevelopment project. The project will see a new civic hub built on Uxbridge Road, including smaller council offices, a new library and a customer service centre. At the rear, will be 477 new homes, 28 of which will be three-bedroomed, with retail premises on the ground floor. Fifty percent of these homes will be classed as “affordable”.
Originally, the Perceval House redevelopment was going to be completed in stages, with a partial demolition taking place to make room for the construction of a new smaller office building while staff continued to work from the remaining part. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift towards more remote working leading to changes in the way the council delivers its services.
Even when the pandemic abates, the council says it’s likely that most staff will continue to work from home for most of the week, which has allowed the council and its development partner, Vistry, to redraw plans with staff either working remotely or from temporary offices until the new, smaller office building is ready. This would allow the project to be completed around 20 months ahead of the previous schedule. Ealing Council’s cabinet will consider this change to the proposals on Tuesday, 16 March.
Councillor Mik Sabiers, cabinet lead for housing, planning and transformation, said, “As a council, we are focused on delivering more genuinely affordable housing for local families and the Perceval House redevelopment is one of the ways we are doing this. I am pleased that Ealing’s planning committee has given its approval, because this means we are on track to house more people on our waiting list even sooner than initially planned, as well as get the most out of this important, town-centre location with a new library and commercial space.
“Sadly, the job and housing protections that have been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end later this year. When this happens, we know that even more vulnerable residents will turn to us for help and we need to be ready. That’s why we are doing everything we can to create quality, affordable homes for local people.
“As well as being important from an affordable housing perspective, the Perceval House redevelopment is also important for Ealing Broadway town centre and for retail and businesses. Along with Dickens Yard and the Filmworks development, it will help to drive the regeneration of our town centre after COVID-19, helping to reinforce it as a destination and a great place to live and work.”
The scheme will now be referred to the Greater London Authority and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for final planning approval. The demolition of Perceval House could start as soon as this December if they agree.