One of the big issues raised over the Leaf and Dickens Yard planning applications is vision. Where is the vision for Ealing?
In planning terms this has to be in the current Unitary Development Plan which the current Tory administration inherited from the previous administration. It was adopted in October 2004 and you can see it here.
This is currently being re-worked and will be called the Local Development Framework (LDF). The consultation meeting on Thursday was a part of the process of creating and getting consensus for the LDF. Sure this is a long-winded process that has been underway since the 2006 elections but it would be surprising if it wasn’t. Those asking for vision need to accept that the current process is all about informing that vision.
I have been looking hard at Crossrail, see here, and it is clear to me that Crossrail will have a big impact on the LDF. It is inconceivable that the State would spend Â£16 billion on building a high speed railway connection between the World’s busiest international airport at Heathrow and the World’s foremost financial centre in the City and allow Ealing’s centre half way between the two to remain a relatively low density area. We might argue over the level of density but dense it will be. Why wouldn’t you want to surround Crossrail nodes with high density developments?
Those with a knowledge of Ealing’s history know that the centre of Ealing was half way down South Ealing Road around St Mary’s church before the railway came. The current Broadway and its hinterland of residential streets is a product of 19th century railway development. Now the railway is coming again and Ealing’s centre needs to respond to it. We might lament the loss of the country houses and market gardens that comprised this area before the railway came but the railway is coming again and we need to work out whether we want to make it work for us or whether we want to stick our heads in the sand.
Many of the objectors to these schemes seem to have a clear vision. That of an exclusive, upmarket suburb like Chiswick, Hampstead or Richmond. That might suit a few of the borough’s residents but I suspect it will not resonate with the majority.