Local campaigning group Cap The Towers has said that Ealing Council and its leader Councillor Peter Mason “appears to say one thing and do the opposite” as the Council planning committee approved on Wednesday night (19 October 2022) the addition of a seventh tower at Friary Park development The Verdean despite local opposition.
In a tweet, the group said: “Last night @ealingcouncil voted in favour of a 7th tower at #FriaryPark. We now know our council leader, @_petermason appears to say one thing and do the opposite.We have revealed strong evidence to show his council is doing the opposite to these quotes.”
Since September, the group in a series of video presented by TV broadcaster Sean Fletcher has been challenging Ealing Council and Councillor Mason over how residents in Ealing are not involved in decisions. In May 2021, Councillor Mason said: “From now on communities will be in the driving seat when it comes to regeneration in Ealing. Local communities need to lead the process of change in our Borough, not developers. I want to ensure that local people know that their Council is on their side and that’s why I am announcing a series of new measures to make the Council more open, transparent and inclusive”.
They also questioned why Councillor Mason said at Acton’s Friary Park development of high-rise buildings: “We don’t want speculative planning applications proposed for tall buildings that are inappropriate for their surroundings”.
In a video posted 17 October 2022 presented by TV broadcaster Sean Fletcher, the Council is directly asked: “Now you tell me, whether these towers are appropriate for the surrounding area”.
The latest video comes after Cap The Towers has been campaigning for Ealing Council to be “open, honest and transparent” over plans for The Verdean, a new property development set to consist of 990 new homes on the former Friary Park site of Acton.
The group claims that the Labour-run Council has been holding meetings and negotiations with the developers of the high rise towers which the public have been denied information about.
In January 2022, in a video and statement from Council leader Councillor Peter Mason, he told residents of Ealing that “Our administration promised residents in May (2021) that we would be “open, honest and transparent“.
Cap The Towers has claimed that the Council has been ignoring and not responding to residents concerns over Mount Anvil and Catalyst, part of the Peabody Group, plans for the development which is six acres in size and across the road from Acton Main Line station.
According to Mount Anvil and Catalyst, 45% of the development will consist of affordable homes.
Currently there are six towers, Cap The Towers revealed an additional one which has now been approved but residents were not informed or consulted about and they claim it doesn’t offer any affordable homes. They also say up to nine towers may eventually be built on the Friary Park site instead of the six they were led to believe would be there.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council told EALING.NEWS: “Ealing Council for many, many years has failed to listen to residents who have concerns over the large number of tall buildings that their planning committee has voted through. Liberal Democrats say even though it is legal for the Council to meet up with developers before any applications are lodged, this smells fishy when Ealing Council does not publish the details of those meetings. I understand other Councils publish details of those meetings and it this Council wants to be open and transparent then it needs to do the same. Anything else and people will be rightly annoyed about these backroom meetings.”
Cap The Towers say they are not against new homes being built but say “We are against developer greed and believe strongly that local residents should have a voice. Unfortunately the planning system is weighted heavily in the developers’ favour. If they get their way, there will be no stopping them returning to raise the other towers even higher.”
In a series of videos released during September 2022 and October 2022, TV presenter and local resident Sean Fletcher highlighted concerns about the Council over its approach with Friary Park. Sean also challenged Ealing Council leader Councillor Peter Mason for the Council to be “open and transparent” with residents concerning the development being built.
Cap The Towers wanted to know more about meetings between Ealing Council and developers Mount Anvil and Catalyst.
According to Cap The Towers there were eight pre-application meetings in 2021 but when they made a Freedom of Information request to find out what the meetings were about, the Council refused to provide any information on which Ealing officers or councillors were present at these meetings, provided no information about what was discussed or agreed at the meetings and claimed no written record exists of what took place at these meetings.
Cap The Towers said: “Freedom of Information would allow us all to know what was raised at these pre- application meetings and what commitments Ealing Council gave to the developers, but without any written records of these meetings, it is impossible for the Freedom of Information Act to work at all!”
Conservative Councillor Gregory Stafford told EALING.NEWS: “Local Conservatives have repeatedly opposed the over development of the Friary Park development. New homes are needed in the Borough but skyscraper rabbit hutches with no increase in amenities benefit no one. I am disappointed but not surprised that the Labour Council is refusing to disclose the details of meetings, because the Labour Leader’s pledge to be open and transparent has been shown to be nothing but hot air.”
Councillor Stafford added: “The Council’s planning code of conduct states that these meetings need to be logged and the names of those present must be recorded. Once again, Ealing’s Labour Council fails to follow even its own most basic standards. Residents are right to be outraged”.
Further videos presented by Sean Fletcher highlight a range of issues which they say the Council has not replied to them about.
At the start of October 2022, a video for the commercial sales of flats at The Verdean was released by property agents Knight Frank promoting studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom homes along with a link to the properties on sale from £375,000.
EALING.NEWS has approached Ealing Council for a comment.