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Ealing and Northfield

Fantasy town planning

Tonight I attended SEC’s fantasy town planning session in the town hall.

The meeting was very well attended with most of the 400 seats filled. The Green representative Sarah Edwards failed to turn up. One of the high points was Labour’s Bassam Mahfouz suggesting that a new transport interchange might be funded by a local congestion charge. At £40-50 million that would hurt.

The meeting was chaired by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur. He has learnt his trade in the BBC school of objectivity.

He referred to the Conservative team as “you lot”. He called the Glenkerrin Arcadia scheme an “insane idea” (compare this with the language of the planning inspector: “The evidence to the Inquiry demonstrated that the appeal proposal would deliver a number of substantial benefits, which would fulfil some important objectives of development plan policy.”) When one guy at the back talked in favour of tall buildings Sackur ridiculed him. He talked about property developers making “frankly millions for themselves”. He asked: “Why is Ealing’s shopping rubbish?” He asked: “Why is the cinema project completely buggered?”. Whatever Sackur is, objective he is not.

The whole session failed to provide much illumination. Sackur didn’t even try to run a useful meeting.

6 replies on “Fantasy town planning”

Oh dear.

Just wait till you see the analysis of 195 returned, completed questionnaires – there will be more toys out of the pram then.

Stephen Sackur is an Ealing resdient. He knows what it’s like here – the good and the bad.

You are not exactly objective are you? You clearly dislike the BBC.

Rupa,

I think the country wide shop vacancy rate is about 10%. People who complain about empty shops in Ealing Broadway and West Ealing maybe don’t visit the hundreds of provincial towns with far worse vacancy rates than is suffered by Ealing’s shopping centres.

There are two possible solutions:

– the price of shops goes down to reflect the clear over-supply. One component of this is rent. Maybe shop unit owners, often our own pension funds, need to get realistic about the long term outlook for shop rents? The other component is business rates, set centrally by central government and due to shoot up in London, see here. It looks like the Labour government is about to shut a whole lot more shops.

– the supply of shops goes down. Maybe we have too many shops which reflects a change in consumer behaviour. Maybe we need to chase some businesses such as vets, doctors, solicitors and dentists out of private homes in residential areas and into shop units?

The thing we can all do is make sure we actually use shops we approve of. Lots of people like the new fish monger in Northfield Avenue. If they don’t actually buy his fish every week he will disappear very quickly.

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