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HomeNewsChanges revealed in Northolt and Southall as council publish 'local plan'

Changes revealed in Northolt and Southall as council publish ‘local plan’

Ealing Council has published its local plan after having been drafting it for years. The local plan lays out the council’s proposals for infrastructure, building, the environment, preservation, housing, economic development and more.

The plan is so dense that Ealing’s Lib Dem bashed the document as ‘1,209 pages of impenetrable waffle, jargon and repetition’. However, within the plan, there are policies and proposals that will affect the lives of residents.

The council’s adoption of 20-minute cities is likely to turn some heads. The source of great speculation, debate and even protest, 20-minute cities are a rather benign concept.

They aim to establish areas where services, shops, doctors, hospitals and other essential locations are accessible within a 20-minute walk or cycle. Inspiring active travel means a reduction in the use of cars and an increase in the population exercising.

In a summary of the plan the council wrote: “By promoting 20-minute neighbourhoods across the borough, where most daily needs can be met within a short walk or cycle, Ealing will become a cleaner, greener and more sustainable borough.

“Firm action will be taken on climate change to protect the borough’s future. There will also be a range of measures to foster civic pride and belonging, promote thriving communities and spread the benefits of access to modern infrastructure.”

The plan also contains steps have have been praised by opposition groups including the reversal of changes being proposed to green belt land as well as most of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) changes being cancelled or substantially altered. Notably, there has been a reduction in development sites proposed by the council since its last consultation.

Originally 118 sites were put forward which has now been reduced to 82 sites. This means that 40 sites have been removed across the borough and four new sites have been added (two in Acton, one in Northolt and one in Southall).

The inclusion of Warren Farm in sites to be developed will be controversial for many. Cllr Jon Ball, from the Liberal Democrats, told a full council meeting on Wednesday (February 21) that he approved of moves like incorporating a section of land owned by Imperial College into Warren Farm, a much-disputed nature reserve.

However, he said: “We continue to demand clarity that the whole of the current Warren Farm will be preserved as a local nature reserve.” The future of the grasslands has long hung in the balance with the council voting to turn a part of the land into sports facilities – a decision that has faced resistance from residents and conservationists.

While activists have fought to leave Warren Farm as it is, Labour council leader Peter Mason was firm in his rebuttal. Citing an area of the land which currently houses a series of dilapidated buildings he said: “Of course, the green spaces at Warren Farm will continue to be preserved but where we’ve got toilet blocks and tarmac and bits of land that are fundamentally not serving their purpose as green belt then we actually need to do something about it.”

Defenders of the site say that the council should tear down the older buildings and allow the area to be rewilded in line with the council’s policies in other parts of Ealing. However, Cllr Mason labelled his critics as ‘NIMBYs’ who ‘always hold our country back’ adding that building houses and facilities for residents were more important than ever.

He added that Ealing was in danger of becoming a ‘dormitory suburb’ without careful planning and investment which would see the borough flourish for the people who live and work there, not commuters. But even the council’s build strategy faced scrutiny with its proposal to reach 40 per cent of affordable housing projects.

Cllr Ball said: “We should be pushing for at least 50 per cent affordable housing in individual commercial schemes rather than settling for 40 per cent.” The councillor argued that the 40 per cent target could be trampled on by developers who will aim to get it even lower during individual planning cases. He added: “Without this, we risk exacerbating the already dire situation of housing and insecurity and homelessness.”

Cllr Mason responded: “You cannot on the one hand bemoan a plan that says we’re are not delivering affordable housing but also on the other say that we shouldn’t build. It is a traditional NIMBY tactic.”