Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Mayor telling porkies on Leaf

Ealing LeafThe Mayor pretty much directly lied about the planning application for the Leaf develoment in Ealing this morning on the Andrew Marr show.

If you read the transcript there was this exchange between Marr and the Mayor:

ANDREW MARR: But you are going to change the way London looks dramatically, if your plans go ahead. I mean there are going to be very large numbers of very, very tall buildings, and quite quickly?

KEN LIVINGSTONE: No, no there aren’t going to be very large numbers of tall buildings. Broadly I think in the last seven years perhaps, five or six have been agreed. I wouldn’t expect that to change, I, the one just around the corner from where you live, Ealing Broadway, I mean I saw last week and we broadly made it quite clear to the borough council this wouldn’t be acceptable.

Doesn’t that sound to you like the Mayor is saying that he rejected the Leaf because it was too tall? You would be wrong. The Mayor’s report said:

That Ealing Council be advised that the principle of a high-density mixed-use development, including a landmark tall building in Ealing town centre, is acceptable in strategic planning terms; however, its shortcomings in delivering an exemplary design in this strategic location; the low proportion of affordable housing within the scheme; and the failure to reach a solution which would mitigate the impact of the development on the local bus network and improve this important transport interchange; are all highly disappointing.

Nothing about too tall there. If you read down to paragraph 49 it says:

The principle of a tall building on this site is supported, as it meets many of the criteria set out in London Plan policy 4B.9 Tall buildings – Location for identifying locations suitable for a tall building. In particular, a tall building on this site supports the strategy of creating the highest levels of activity at locations with the greatest transport capacity. With Ealing Broadway underground and mainline stations and future tram and Crossrail links planned for the station opposite the site, it is without a doubt that a large-scale development that reflects and capitalises on this connectivity is entirely appropriate. The station itself would also benefit greatly from having larger-scale development to identify the location of the transport hub from greater distances as well as more generous public open space around the station to accommodate the volume of passengers and users that will inevitably grow.

Would it be too strong to call the Mayor a lier on the strength of this evidence? The report is dated 20th February, last Wednesday, so it is not as if this is some bit of ancient history. When Nicky Gavron came to Ealing on Friday she mentioned that she had reviewed the Leaf along with the Mayor on Wednesday. Banged to rights I’d say.

3 replies on “Mayor telling porkies on Leaf”

Crumbs! Whoever dreamt up the London Plan policy 48.9 has probably never visited Ealing, has no empathy or understanding how residents over wide areas regard it as their shopping centre, and not as the proposed overbearing built-up residential area to be shunned.
Another misconception is that Ealing Broadway is anything other than a local transport hub for residents of an outer suburb and is not a massive terminal station in the heart of a city.
At least we have the Mayoral spin working in our favour for a change!

“Doesn’t that sound to you like the Mayor is saying that he rejected the Leaf because it was too tall?”

No. Why should it? Livingstone was asked if there are going to be a large amount of tall buildings built in the next few years and he replied that the rate of building was not going to change. He then gave an example of one tall building which had been rejected. He never said why it had been rejected. It just served as an example to illustrate that not every tall building gets permission. Where was the lie? Well done for rooting through the mayors report, but your accusations are thin. You are within your rights to question whether he has been misleading, but to run with the headline that he told lies about it is actually libelous.

Tall buildings are not cool (literally). They have to be air-conditioned as the pressure differences that arise in even relatively low winds at heigher levels means that the windows cannot be opened as the pressure differences would blow out the windows on the other side of the building! (Little known fact). Air conditioning equals energy. This means greenhouse gasses which leads to global warming… This is a conservative (no pun intended) logical argument.
Ecologically-aware countries such as Switzerland have long required natural ventilation in new office buildings. We will end up there sooner or later as enrgy costs sprial making it too expensive to inhabit elaborately sealed and air-conditioned buildings such as The Leaf.
We must be forward looking, rather than creating another white elephant (look at all the empty moderalty-high-rise office blick along the A4 in Brentford! Central Ealing hardly needs more empty office space!
Furthermore, we must consider the impact that high-rise “social housing” will have over time. Low-cost implies low budgets available to maintain it in future. Are we not getting rid of tower blocks in Ealing’s public sector housing and replacing it with low-rise buildings–and these disappearing tower-blaock council house buildings have high bedgets for their upkeep!
Are we not in danger in repeating the mistakes of the sixties and seventies with this rise social housing in the Leaf Anyway? what is the difference between a council tower block of the seventies, and a pirvately-owned toware block with “social housing”–is this not in essence repeating the mistakes of the sixties and the seventies?
Another point to note, is tha these high-rise buildings are built with a twenty-year life span in mind for the interiors: note how the twoer blacks around Euston Station had to be gutted and re-fitted completely at the end of this sort of life cycle.
What we need is low-rise, naturally-ventilated housing and shops built with people, rather than an investment analyst’s spreadsheet in mind.
On a final note: if Ken speaks of several high-rise in seven years, that would extrapolate to, say, about a hundred over a hundred years (all needing gutting and refurbishing every twenty to thirty years–or REPLACEMENT which actually works out cheaper than gutting and re-ftting–believe it or not!)
I think that it is time that Ealing (as a community) looked towards a more realistic view of what could be done in Ealing that was actually SUSTAINABLE! We have plenty of disintegrating unsustainable modernity in Ealing (Shopping centre, Arcadia Cenrre, Villiers House over Ealing Broadway Station, Tower Blocks on the South Acton Estate, Toweer Blocks on the Green Man Estate in West Ealing… the list is endless) let’s stop that right now.

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