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Ealing and Northfield

Regenerating Ealing

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I attended part of the consultation session the council ran on the Ealing Development Framework on Thursday.

In many ways this was a very positive session. For starters there were about 150 people crammed into the Victoria Hall. Tory PPC for Ealing Central & Acton, Angie Bray, was there along with numerous councillors. Many of the faces were very familiar, dominated by residents’ association diehards. The session got off to a slightly shaky start as Cllr Millican, the portfolio holder for Regeneration and Transport, explained that it was not going to be a standard public meeting, where a few people dominate the room, but that we would get everyone to work on tables of ten. Some people didn’t like the idea but in the end it worked. There were five different aspects of the plan to discuss. My table discussed West Ealing and we had a useful hour on this. I will be interested to read the output from the people who were note taking.

I was struck by the age profile of those attending. The average age was about 60 and there were only three brown faces in the room.

The dominant opinion the room could probably be encapsulated in the line “we want to be like Chiswick”. The other line that kept coming back was that there was no overweening strategy or vision for the town centre.

The Save Ealing Centre group have been making much of the running in setting the terms of the public debate on the town centre redevelopment. Over the next few days I intend to look hard at some of Save Ealing Centre’s arguments because I believe that there is another side to the story and it needs to be told.

For instance, this posting appeared on Ealing Times’ website on Friday from a chap called Alex:

These Save Ealing Centre people are the same names as those in the Save Ealing’s Streets bunch aka GORDON RD GANG. First the tram, then the Leaf and now Dickens Yard. They resist EVERYTHING that threatens change and modernisation in Ealing Broadway from public transport improvements to much needed new homes. Its always a case of they are alright Jack and the rest of us can go eat cake. They’ve got their cars and their homes and they don’t care about anyone else. They don’t care if the next generation can’t get homes here or access to Ealing Broadway station in a reasonable amount of time. They only care about residents in their own very small central Ealing area, rather than the borough as a whole. They are a backward looking bunch who block developments that would bring benefits to a great many people, especially younger people who need small affordable units near tube stations to get to work into London in an environmentally friendly way. Their intransigence blocks much needed regeneration to Ealing Centre. Time for these conservative old timers to retire to Sandbanks and let the younger generation revitalise Ealing for all its residents.

10 replies on “Regenerating Ealing”

Huge misconceptions by anonymous Alex and surprised you are even putting such a poor posting on your blog. The very reverse is the case that residents in wide areas of the borough regard Ealing Broadway as their shopping and transport hub and are very concerned that overdevelopment into a residential area with a further jump in population will mean overcrowding and congestion.
Ealing Hospital came bottom in a patient study by the Healthcare Commission and already have a difficult task concentrating on improving standards of hygiene etc.
Fielding Primary School in Northfields have just announced a proposed 4th class in every year pushing proposed numbers up from 690 to 865 or more which is far from ideal for a Junior School designed for under 300 children.

It would have been nice to have read about your views Phil on Dickens Yard and the future of Ealing and West Ealing town centres – instead of just your reprising the views of the somewhat anonymous Alex. Is Alex a stooge for St George? I’m sorry to have to point out that St George has been found guilty of such activities in the past.

Who are these younger generation that Alex talks about? One doesn’t seem to meet them at public meetings, in residents’ groups or at Council meetings? If these young people don’t want to participate in local democracy we can’t force them to.

I’m glad you picked up the majority view of attendees at the meeting. Whether you like these views or not these are the ones of motivated, committed residents who do not want Ealing to be spoiled; but who do want credible, sustainable, over-arching town centre plans and appropriate, proportionate revitalisation.

Perhaps the “about-60s” are the only people who care enough about Ealing to want change for the better, and are committed enough to devote time and energy towards achieving this. Where is the younger generation? Is the current administration failing to reach out to them, to capture their imagination, and to find out their vision for the future of Ealing?

We still have a long way to go before we see the much-needed integrated master plan that will establish Ealing’s real transport, residential, retail, cultural and leisure needs, and set out positive ways of meeting these requirements in a sustainable manner.

At least the “residents’ association diehards” have the courage to speak out in public, to draw on their experience of what will work, and to feed this information into the public debate.

By the way, I wonder whether the Alex whom you quote realises the strict eligibility criteria for affordable housing, and how much everybody else will actually be paying for the Dickens Yard flats – at full market price. It is very easy for the likes of Alex to add a posting to a blog without first examining the developers’ proposals and documentation in detail.

I too attended the meeting and at 47 was one of the youngest there! I think Ealing Council should try and reach out to the diverse population that is Ealing and try and seek views from different age groups as well as ethnicities.

I also see no harm in Ealing residents aspirations to be another Chiswick rather than some downmarket suburb. As Brendan Walsh says only 35% of us (and I am one of that 35%) actually choose to shop in Ealing. If this is what residents want and the council listened to some of these ideas then we have a much better chance of it’s success going forward.

Many people will look forward to reading your thoughts about the SEC website. You’ll open up a debate about Ealing’s future which is something that is long overdue. A lot of people turned out last Thursday because they wanted to express their views about a town centre they regard as theirs. The Tibbald’s report shows most of central Ealing is up for redevelopment and it can be no bad thing so many care what it will become. This is what healthy local democracy is all about.

You’re right – all age groups must be encouraged to have their say. But don’t dismiss too carelessly the views of more mature voters just because of their age. There was plenty of wisdom in the comments people made on Thursday. As a Councillor representing many of those in the Victoria Hall, I would expect you to seek out that wisdom and reflect on it in your forthcoming postings.

I didn’t make it to the meeting on Thursday but I did go to the annual Ealing Civic Society lecture at the town hall on the Tuesday which is probably the same crowd of people. At this meeting I was shocked at the average of age. My girlfriend and myself (both 31) were easily the youngest people there.

I think gaining an appreciation for your local urban environment/developments must be something which grows with age. I know a few years ago I wouldn’t have made the effort to go to these sort of meetings.

I’m not against developments in Ealing town centre but the current plans are not there yet. There needs to be proper integratation for all 3 sites Ealing Broadway station, the Leaf development and Dickens Yard.

The only way to please the diehard residents association crowd would be if reproduction Victorian mansion blocks would be built on the Dickens Yard site which nice as it is, isn’t going to happen.

Why not? Reproduction Victorian mansion would certainly survive for a hundred plus years if built to an appropriate standard. I think that no one (apart from venture capitalists and financiers and financial directors of property companies) would object to a nice development of a few dozen houses with nice large gardens on the Dickens Yard site. Why must we try and emulate the mistakes of Sheffield, and the South Acton Estate, and other high rise developments by creating high-yield financial investments that are unusable in twenty to forty years time?
Walking along the pavement in Ealing Town today I noted how packed the streets were, how jam-packed the roads were with traffic, how grubby the pavements looked, the lack of public seating and public facilities (such as toilets), and how over-crowded the buses were and I wondered how on earth anyone with any sense could even think about shoe-horning 770 “homes” into central Ealing. Only the money-men, that is for sure.
H. Weeks.

Dear Phil Taylor,
I am shocked that you can reproduce as valid argument such an offensive piece of writing (from “Alex”). Your role as an elected Councillor is to represent the electorate, not to engage in abuse. Your own comments on SEC are not a lot better.
Fortunately not all your fellow councillors follow this method of engaging with their electorate.
As one of your constituents I hope your comment that you were listeneing at the meeting last Thursday is true. The fact that the majority of the participants were in their sixties does not invalidate anything. More to the point, Save Ealing’s Centre is an amalgamation of 25 residents’ associations and community groups, representing around 12,500 people. The residents’ associations have all been consulted about their stand on the issue of redevelopments in our town centre and support their represntative on SEC. Interestingly, they speak with one voice. That voice is to ensure our town centre is not thrown to the developer/wolves but that it should be developed carefully and thoughtfully in the interests of the whole borough and of future generations.
Your thoughts on what legacy you would leave our children would be interesting to hear.

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