Ealing and Northfield

Regenerating Ealing – The long grass


Alongside the vision thing the detractors of Arcadia and Dickens Yard lament the lack of a masterplan or strategy for Ealing town centre. I have already outlined how the council is moving to fill this gap but let’s look at what they have to say anyway.

Save Ealing’s Centre says:

Until Ealing Council puts together an integrated development plan, that combines residential, retail, transport, infrastructure and community facilities, Ealing Town Centre will continue to decline and remain under seige[sic] from property developers that propose massive residential ghettos that are labelled ‘regeneration’ and ‘retail’.

The same night as last week’s council meeting Ealing residents enjoyed a lecture from Peter Hall, a eminent academic rather than a practitioner. According to the admirable WEN’s write up of the lecture:

Sir Peter felt strongly that what Ealing centre desperately needed was an over-arching strategic plan. It also needed an enlightened planning department.

Apparently the last line evoked laughter from the audience. Ridiculously SEC says:

The Council’s responsibility is to create an environment that meets all stakeholders needs.

That would be tough one even for God. We might settle for pleasing most of the people most of the time.

Strategy formation is poorly understood by most people and it is not about airily waving your hand around and opining about the way things should be in the best of all possible worlds. Strategy must always take into account the facts on the ground. The facts on the ground in Ealing are:

  • we don’t use our own town centre enough, either there are not enough of us or we go elsewhere to shop
  • Crossrail is coming
  • Glenkerrin owns a large site
  • the council owns a large site – and nakedly seeks to get the largest possible gain for the community as a whole
  • there are two other large sites owned by property investors south of the Broadway.

Any strategy for Ealing must accommodate these facts on the ground. It must also be implementable. There are essentially four large development sites in central Ealing, two north of the Broadway and two south of the Broadway. Clearly these sites and their owners/developers need to be mindful of the relationships between them and the Tibbalds report does highlight how these should interrelate. Both the Arcadia and DY plans have been mindful of the permeability of their sites. But, the four large sites are separated by trunk roads which are unlikely to move and an implementable strategy for Ealing would be unlikely to make these developments directly contingent on each other.

A strategy for Ealing would allow Ealing Broadway station to be redeveloped along with Crossrail and would allow easy interchange with Crossrail for all other modes of transport. There is no reason to put rows of buses in a bus station in the centre of Ealing. By all means let the buses go through Ealing but I would be really glad if they weren’t all sitting idle in our town centre, that would quite literally be a waste of space.

It seems to me that the anti-development camp sees strategy as a convenient excuse for kicking any development of Ealing’s town centre into the long grass. It is also clear to me that their strategic analysis is unsound.

12 replies on “Regenerating Ealing – The long grass”

You put your finger neatly on the problem Phil – putting together a strategy that reconciles many objectives is a complex task. But there are well established procedures for doing it and I don’t think that the Council has seriously tried to follow them.

Instead, it seems to be trying to push through a scheme that, as you say seeks to maximise the short term gains regardless (in my view) of any long terms costs.

It is grossly unfair to dismiss anyone who raises concerns about this as being in ‘the anti-development camp’. Like Peter Hall, SEC is saying let’s prepare an overall strategy for this before we let leash the bulldozers. But neither Peter Hall nor SEC has the powers to draw up a meaningful strategy – only the Council does. That’s why I feel very disappointed that after 2 years in office so little progress has been made in this direction.



Sir Peter Hall may well be an academic but he’s also been a Government advisor for many years. You’d learn a lot if you invested the time to meet him and hear him speak.

An alternative view of the facts is:

+ Many Ealing residents do not use Ealing town centre at all. However this is no reason to turn it into large, disjointed, overcrowded housing estate with marginal retail

+ Crossrail may well happen and will be a once in a generation opportunity to create an integrated transport hub (integrating trains, tubes, buses, cars, taxis, mini-cabs, bikes and pedestrians)

+ Glenkerrin owns a large site, and boy they must be wishing now that they’d never bought it. 5,000 residents wrote to the Council saying NO to Arcadia/Leaf1

+ There’s also 4.4 acres of land in public ownership in the centre of Ealing, currently being mostly used as a car park (Dickens Yard). St George want to put a dense, overcrowded housing estate on this land and 1000’s of residents don’t want them to. However, the Council seems obsessed with getting as much money out of the St George housing lease as it possibly can – irrespective of the adverse impact on the local community, or the loss of opportunity to use the land for something else. If the Council is broke then leave Dickens Yard as it is – it will be less of a blot on the landscape than what’s proposed.

+ There are two other large sites owned by property developers south of the Broadway. OK – when they want to develop something, they can submit plans. For these sites and the other two mentioned above, without an overall vision or strategy the Council won’t be able to make a rational decision on whether any of these plans is what is best for Ealing.


‘Selfish minority pressure groups’ – that’s a bold sweeping statement, especially for SEC as it’s made up of 25 different community groups. Perhaps you think Phil and other elected Members should take more note of selfish, majority, apathetic individuals.


In my view, Crossrail is the key to the whole regeneration of Ealing Town Centre.

Crossrail will happen, bringing with it the chance to completely modernise and rebuild Ealing Broadway station. As Eric says above, it “will be a once in a generation opportunity to create an integrated transport hub integrating trains, tubes, buses, cars, taxis, mini-cabs, bikes and pedestrians”.

That opportunity must not be missed. If such a transport hub is created it will make the development sites both north and south of the Broadway extremely valuable.

When you have a Town Centre with good transport links people will want to live there, shop there and spend leisure time there. That should be the starting point for an integrated planning strategy.


The silhouette certainly concentrates the mind! Its a shame that our councils have to face predatory developers in this way and have so little in-house capability. Ealing`s Victorian Engineer and Surveyor Charles Jones was able to design and build the Town Hall pictured. At the same time those in authority were able to thwart over-development and create green walkways to our spacious shopping area, public library and railway station, through parks such as Lammas and Walpole.



The silhouette is a very clever piece of misinformation on the part of SEC. No-one will ever see this view unless they care to hire a cherry picker, wheel it into the centre of Walpole park and hoist themselves about 100ft into the air.


Phil, Point taken on day to day visuality from Walpole but this wouldn`t apply from all points. Would you agree that it fairly shows the scale and relativity of the proposed development?


Phil I have good news for you. None of the roads separating the 5 sites in Ealing Broadway are trunk roads. The A4020 Uxbridge Road and the others are all distributor roads and are all under the control of LBE.

If the council has a mind to, it can mitigate the effects of traffic by installing more pedestrian crossings and/or implementing a 20mph speed limit.

The reason we have buses sitting idle in the town centre is that 9 routes (soon to be 8) terminate here and it would be inefficient to drive a bus out of the town centre for 5 minutes while the driver takes his/her break.



Thanks for the technical update but I don’t think it undermines my point that the sites are distinct and that any sensible strategy would link them in terms of promoting easy movement of pedestrians between them but would not seek to tie the sites together such that there were unnecessary dependencies between them.

As for bus routes let’s change them. There is no need for them to terminate on a valuable piece of real estate. Terminate them somewhere else. Too much of Haven Green is a bus depot right now.


I reference the Maytrees Rest Garden as a point of fact that the Council is incapable of delivering on its promises. Peeps, go see the results of the “restoration” opposite South Ealing Station. Dig the really beautiful “virtual roses”…


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