Ealing and Northfield

Old news from SEC

It seems that Ealing Times are falling for Save Ealing Centre’s trick of recycling old news.

They have two items posted today that refer to a report from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The first piece quotes extensively from CABE’s report dated 4th July.

The CABE report is not terribly negative and one of the main differences in opinion is that CABE are in the anti-car camp whereas Ealing Council is keen to have some car parking in the town centre to ensure the continued success of the town centre. A lot of the arguments about car movements around the site and car use in general ignore the fact that the curent site IS A CAR PARK.

In the second piece the old CABE report is referred to again and SEC spokesperson Anthony Lewis says:

We believe the time has come for Ealing Council to reconsider its proposals to redevelop Dickens Yard in isolation, and instead to hold back on the Dickens Yard development until it has worked up and set in place an integrated master plan for the whole of the centre of Ealing.

This is SEC’s long grass strategy, see previous posting.

SEC are waging a media campaign, but that is what it is. That is all it is.

Apparently SEC is in the process of putting together its own plans for Ealing’s future. That is very nice. I guess if they had £500 million – £1 billion in the bank they could make them happen. Back in the real world the council is trying to do the doable.

16 replies on “Old news from SEC”


English Heritage and CABE have found little to please them in Gklenkerrin Arcadia/Leaf1 and in St George Dickens Yard1.

You might actually wait and see what SEC’s plans are for the centre of Ealing before passing comments on them.

The Council clearly has no overarching plan for the centre of Ealing, which is why the 27 residents’ and community groups are working together on formulating such a plan, which SEC will formally submit as input to the LDF.

Lots of things in life are ‘doable’ – but it doesn’t naturally follow that the ‘doable’ is desirable or acceptable

What Councillors should be trying to do is to work with groups like SEC not slagging them off all the time.



Nice to “engage” with a person rather than SEC which refuses to identify itself and will not play the accountability game that the council has to. I am suspicious that the odd letter I see in the Gazette every other week is the next SEC member taking his or her turn to write a letter. But without a list of participants we can’t check that can we? It would be interesting to see SEC’s minutes too. It is no use saying that SEC don’t have a mechanism for agreeing what they will do with its 27 groups.

Would you like to address my parking point directly? Do SEC want Dicken’s Yard developed without parking for shoppers (one of the main drivers of the bulk)? SEC can’t have it both ways. Density on this site (which CABE accept) plus parking will help keep Ealing’s commercial centre strong. If SEC want less bulk are they happy to lose the parking? Where do they suggest the parking goes?

Much of the commentary from English Heritage and CABE talks about the settings of perfectly pleasant Victorian buildings such as the Town Hall and Christ Church. It might be nice to design our streetscape around them but most of us wouldn’t accept the cost. Why not turn the Dicken’s Yard site into Campo dei Miracoli? The current site is a car park, and not a very attractive one. It is not clear to me that the heritage buildings justify the reverence which they seem to attract from some.

I will be interested to see SEC’s plans. You might characterise my comments as “slagging off” but SEC need to live in the real world. It is all very well proposing community and cultural facilities for the town centre but even if these were affordable as a part of the development, which is not at all clear, they need to come with business plans and credible user groups if they are not to end up as white elephants. The Town Hall itself is already an under-used community and cultural facility. Having been to excellent ESO concerts in local churches, exploiting another under-used community and cultural facility, I question the capacity issue SEC seek to address by adding more.



SEC may well respond to your questions.

For my part I can tell you that there is much healthy argument in the SEC meetings; a rich mixture of Tories, Lib Dems, Labour Party members, Socialists, Greens and political neutrals. SEC does minute its meetings and SEC does have a written Constitution.

Personally I’m happy working with a group of talented people who are trying to stop the centre of Ealing being ruined.

As for Dickens Yard, you are asking the wrong question. It’s not possible to come up with a ‘parking strategy’ for Dickens Yard or any part of central Ealing until there’s a believable plan in place for re-invigorating the whole of the town centre. This is not pie in the sky, this is what should already have been in place in Ealing’s still none existent Local Development Framework.

At least the current Dickens Yard provides a useful function as a car park. You clearly need such things in town centres. I personally can’t see how building a housing estate in Dickens Yard fits into any sort of town centre plan.

Your personal views on heritage are noted. They make you an interesting choice as the Council Cabinet’s Heritage Quarter czar.

‘Keep Ealing’s commercial centre strong’. What commercial centre? You can’t possibly mean the retail centre as this is very weak.

SEC is less than a year old. It’s been working on a town centre vision for quite a few months now, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to see this vision.

Again my personal view – we must discover or create reasons/needs for people to visit and spend time in Ealing centre and then meet these needs with all the necessary scalable infrastructure to support this. This stands a far greater chance of success than throwing blocks of flats and doubtful retail at the problem.

I do know the real world. I also suspect that the St George Dickens Yard development, if it were to go ahead, may well turn out to be a white elephant.

As for the Town Hall, in its current state it doesn’t meet everyone’s idea or needs as the perfect place to hold a meeting, a party, a wedding reception, dance classes, choral evenings, symphony concerts, sporting events, conferences, exhibitions, and rock concerts.


Hey Eric,

Glad to hear that SEC have minutes – I was previously told that SEC didn’t bother with that kind of formality. I look forward to them being published double quick on SEC’s website. You know full well that SEC would be making FOI requests to the council if the boot was on the other foot. Until SEC publish its minutes and lists the people involved it will be too easy to write it off as an unrepresentative group of anonymous campaigners.

I note that SEC has taken down its message board. It only had 21 postings, most from last year and about half in favour of the schemes that SEC is trying to thwart. The tiny number of comments either mean that no-one can find the SEC website or that the town centre developments are not stirring up quite the level of negative feeling that SEC asserts. One of these must be true.


SEC is a group of volunteers. From my perspective it exists to try and stop paid elected Members and paid Officers making a right mess of the centre of Ealing.

Don’t have a go at the SEC web site as some might respond with comments on the very poor Ealing Council web site.

Instead of getting all tied up in matters of process you should concentrate on what this group is saying and what it is trying to achieve. You seem more interested in form than content. Write SEC off at your peril.


Unfortunately Phil, your passion for the Conservative Party and your passion for this Conservative Council sometimes clouds your judgment. You tend to draw conclusions and impute motives from little real evidence apart from the fact that a contrary view to that of Ealing Council is being put forward.

The Glenkerrin “leaf” was ugly and cheap looking and would have provided accommodation for over 700 households without the necessary infrastructure to support such an influx – Doctors, Dentists, Schools, Medical services, Transport, etc.

The Dickens Yard Development plans are overbearing and contrary to the Council’s own guidelines and also don’t provide the necessary infrastructure.

Both plans ignore the advent of Crossrail and the essential re-development of Ealing Broadway Station. All three of these things need to be considered together and the Council seems to be either saying nothing or dragging its feet in this regard. I hope you can tell me this is not so.

I am not a member of SEC nor have I been to any meetings but I’m becoming curious and might just go along. The absence of minutes and other formal stuff doesn’t concern me a lot – with so many organisations represented it’s a lot of work and very time consuming. I’d rather go along and listen to the latest ideas anyway. You do seem more concerned with form rather than content on this one.

Maybe you should be more open minded and listen less critically to what they have to contribute.



I have made a point of not commenting on the actual plans for DY and Arcadia. My concern is that SEC are not particularly representative and certainly doesn’t represent the young. I worry that SEC will keep fighting even the most reasonable of schemes.

Most of the SEC arguments are just not very good.

Let’s take the doctors issue. Follow this link to find the average GP’s list size in London. It is 1,765. In other words ONE GP could service DY and Arcadia and leave lots of spare capacity for the town centre. It is not as if we are short of accommodation for GPs in the town centre. When there is enough demand in the town centre for a GP surgery the PCT could put one in vanishingly easily – no doubt funded by Section 106 money from these developments. There doesn’t need to be any big plan or strategy to sort this issue.


It sounds, Phil, as though what you really object to is ordinary people getting together in groups and then forming an umbrella organisation to put forward a different vision to that of the Council. Unfortunately when the Council doesn’t appear to be listening to ordinary people that is what happens.

To opine that they “will keep fighting even the most reasonable of schemes” is to say thay are unreasonable people, which is going a bit far. You are sounding more and more like a Council official rather than someone elected by the people of Northfields to represent their views to the Council. No disrespect is intended to Council officials, who do a difficult job very well, but I am sure you understand the point I am making.

You chose not to comment on my central paragraph which I repeat here…..
“Both plans (DY and Arcadia) ignore the advent of Crossrail and the essential re-development of Ealing Broadway Station. All three of these things need to be considered together and the Council seems to be either saying nothing or dragging its feet in this regard. I hope you can tell me this is not so”.

Perhaps you would care to make a comment??



Peter I am very happy for people to voice their opinions. I have an issue with SEC not identifying themselves or doing some of the accountability things they would expect of the council. Most well run clubs or societies list their officers and publish their minutes, at least to members. SEC claim such a wide support base that “their members” are effectively all residents of Ealing.

Crossrail is predicated on development. There is no way that the state wants to spend £16 billion connecting the City to Heathrow and leave Ealing as a backwater. It really is a planning no-brainer that there should be high density developments around a major Crossrail station.

It seems to me that for all their faults both DY and Arcadia are compaitble with Crossrail from the point of view of providing density near Ealing Broadway. Indeed the only reason that these developments are going forward in the current demanding financial environment that they leverage Crossrail.

In terms of developing Ealing Broadway station you only need to go on Google Earth or indeed take a train into Ealing Broadway Station to see that there is a lot of room east of the station, most of it already in the hands of transport undertakings.

SEC might accept that the first principle of good strategy is to break any problem down into manageable pieces. The current scheme boundaries make strategic sense and there are good schemes that can be done on these sites. SEC’s overarching plan is just long grassism.



I am also happy for people to voice their opinions. It’s educational to find out that you are in favour of turning the centre of Ealing into a 1,270 flat housing estate.

SEC is not a publicly accountable body. It’s a very young working group of concerned individuals. Members of the working group – representing the 27 residents and community groups – receive meeting minutes 48 hours after each SEC working group meeting. Not all clubs and societies publish their meeting minutes to their members. SEC isn’t a club or a society anyway – it’s a dynamic collection of concerned organisations/individuals who want to revitalise the centre of Ealing.

Personally, I think seeing Ealing centre’s development as strictly a Crossrail, Heathrow or London City ‘application’ is an interesting – but flawed – viewpoint. You come across as someone who cares more about meeting Heathrow’s and The City’s needs than meeting the needs of Ealing residents.

‘The first principle of good strategy’ is to have a well defined goal. Your goal for Ealing centre seems to be to meet the needs of Crossrail, Heathrow and the City. My personal opinion is that this is the wrong goal.

For all the hoopla around Crossrail there are plenty of savvy commentators who still think Crossrail will not happen – the cash will simply not be found for it.

We are living in a country which is in, or is about to enter, recession. The building industry in this country is crumbling bit by bit every day. My personal view is that now is not the time to plan to build anything in the centre of Ealing – whether it be a housing estate or dodgy retail. Now is the time to figure out what might persuade more people to spend time in the centre of Ealing, and to plan how to make this happen in the real world.

Are ‘these developments….going forward’? I’m not sure they are. Glenkerrin1 pulled out before the first hurdle; St George may stumble on the Ancient Rights of Way issue alone; and Glenkerrin2 has yet to submit a Planning Application.

‘Strategic sense’….’good schemes’ – content free I’m afraid.

‘Long grassism’ is meaningless twaddle.


Phil Taylor writes a lot but says little that makes coherent sense. When Westfield, one of the world’s largest and successful shopping mall developers opens White City, Ealing Broadway as a shopping destination will inevitably go downhill. Please look at what happened to Wembley High Road when Brent X opened years back or Hounslow High Street after Kingston shopping precincts were developed. Further, Crossrail will make it a lot easier for shoppers from areas west of Ealing to travel straight through Eailng to White city. Therefore there is no business case for more retail space in Ealing & this ought to be the basis of any development on DY or Arcadia. There is already an oversupply of retail space in Ealing Broadway as is evidenced by several vacant sites and more of these will appear when White City opens. Imagination is required not sweeteners from a developer that might in the short term reduce the council’s budget deficit.



I don’t think I have ever opined about the retail aspects of the town centre developments. Was there something else that didn’t make “coherent sense” or are you just being rude?

You are quite right that Ealing does not look like it can be a successful destination shopping area. You mention Kingston. The last time we tried to shop there we had to queue for a long time to park and then we found that there are very few places where you can get a decent lunch. The Italian we ended up in was mediocre to say the least. Bentalls didn’t have the lights we wanted in stock so we might as well have ordered them online anyway.

What Ealing Broadway and West Ealing can do is service their hinterland. One of the recurring themes in both development proposals and the Tibbalds work is the permeability of the new developments, allowing them to link with the rest of the town centre and parks. The White City development won’t allow you to push the kids on the swings in the park and get a coffee and do a few chores on Saturday morning. In Ealing you can go to the library, get new heels on your shoes, get some dry cleaning done and get some new pants at M&S. You can also get a good range of interesting food – something that White City, Brent Cross and Kingston really don’t provide. Been to Farm W5 lately?

The main customers for the town centre will be its own hinterland – a hinterland bolstered with some housing density in the town centre.

Most retail space is fairly flexible and there is a range of facilities that we need in the town centre that can exploit this space. We should have some density in the town centre and putting shared services on the ground floor of these is pretty sensible. You can can talk about these developments leading excess retail capacity but if you look at what is proposed for the Daniel site in West Ealing where there is a scheme to put a polyclinic in a newly built, large retail premises you might accept that retail can be pretty much anything.


My comments certainly were not meant to be rude & I am sorry they might have appeared as such. Time allowing I would like to further this debate but will make one observation in passing. Surveys will show that potential visitors & shoppers who reside far from the focus points of a town or city want more parking lots. You also make this point. However, parking lots require free flowing entrances, exits & surrounding feeder roads. This infrastructure in the vicinity of DY & Arcadia does not exist – this is what I meant by saying “coherent sense”.



Thanks – I accept you weren’t being rude.

You bring up the car parking issue. The main driver of the bulk of the DY scheme between 2004 and 2007 is parking. The original scheme basically had no parking for shoppers which would have been another major nail in Ealing’s retail coffin.

I don’t see that this is the big design issue you make it out to be. The current site is used happily enough as a car park. I haven’t looked at the internal designs for DY but are you saying the site’s parking facilities won’t work?


At DY the commercial and residential parking spaces totalling 583 at first appear not enough for the size of the development. However, with only Longfield Avenue serving as an exit/entrance route, these are far too many spaces considering Gordon and Uxbridge Roads are already very congested during peak hours. My understanding is that both the parking areas including the one used for servicing the commercial part will be routed via a common ramp. Inevitably delivery vehicles might block this ramp resulting in multiple congestion points in the vicinity and not to mention an obvious fire risk issue. I admit all this is on the assumption the commercial parts might be fully let which I doubt will be the case because of Westfield, White City. For these reasons it would be sensible to remove the retail proposals, reduce the height of the towers & redesign the scheme to fit into nearby conservation areas plus other listed buildings.


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