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.