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Brent River & Canal Society says Ealing Council’s Local Plan is “a missed opportunity”

Brent River & Canal Society has become the latest organisation to challenge Ealing Council’s 1,200 page 15-year Local Plan, which it says is “a missed opportunity for our parks and rivers” and is asking residents to also express their comments on it before consultation closes on 10 April 2024 at 6pm.

The local plan provides information on housing, environment, leisure, jobs and more on what Labour-run Ealing Council plans to do across the borough and its seven towns of Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall over the next 15 years.

While it welcomes aspects of it including proposals to give Brent River Park (BRP) official regional park status and welcomes Ealing Council’s decision to declare Warren Farm Nature Reserve as a site of importance for nature conservation and to give all of it rewilded meadow local nature reserve designation, it has also raised concerns about the plan.

It has highlighted two key areas which it has highlighted in its assessment of the local plan.

  1. “The plan gives insufficient weight to the green environment. It is too heavily weighted towards housing and the built environment. There is no joined-up approach to the management of parks, open spaces, water courses and biodiversity.”
  2. “The de-designation of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) removes protection from vital open spaces. Metropolitan Open Land is a designation which protects open land within London, preserving it for recreation, nature conservation and scientific interest. With the predicted increase in rainfall, Ealing Council should be converting hardstanding on MOL into green space, rather than building on it. Proposals for 6 new areas of MOL, which would have been hugely beneficial, have since been removed from the Local Plan.”

Brent River Park has further highlighted its concerns and in a statement on the plan said:

“The local plan does not at present meet the requirements of National Planning Policy Framework 14 – Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change. In particular, the Council has not met its obligations to consider the effects of its proposed changes to Green Belt (GB) and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) boundaries with regard to directing development away from areas of higher flood risk and of not increasing the risk of flooding elsewhere.”

“It does not currently meet the requirements of National Planning Policy Framework 15 – Conserving and enhancing the natural environment. The Council has not met its obligations to consider the effects of proposed changes to GB and MOL boundaries with regard to protecting and enhancing valued landscapes and sites of biodiversity.” 

“We are opposed to the de-designation of Metropolitan Open Land as proposed in the Local Plan. The council has argued that some of the areas proposed for de-designation are hardstanding, such as car parks for example. However, in our view, Ealing Council should be aiming to convert this hardstanding back to green space.”

 When the plan was discussed at a council meeting on 21 February 2024,  it was called by opposition party Liberal Democrats as: “impenetrable waffle, jargon and repetition. The Labour administration have failed to engage local people by failing to produce an accessible plan that residents can meaningfully engage with.

During the heated discussion between Ealing Council cabinet members and opposition parties over the presentation of the local plan document, Council leader Councillor Peter Mason said: “It has to be a legally tight document. It sets out a vision for the borough but it also very importantly has to tell developers what they can and can’t do. That requires, unfortunately, a level of precise language that means it has to run to quite a few pages.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball added: “The Local Plan and supporting documents total 1,209 pages of impenetrable waffle, jargon and repetition. The Labour administration have failed to engage local people by failing to produce an accessible plan that residents can meaningfully engage with.

Chair of Ealing Green Party, Neil Reynolds told EALING.NEWS of his concerns over the local plan and how it is presented to residents. He said: “Ealing’s local plan must strike a balance of being detailed enough to explain plans for a large and diverse borough but also be clear and concise so that it can be read and commented on by residents and councillors.”

Mr Reynolds added: “At 1,200 pages the promises of transparency at the election ring hollow however. Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister would be proud of the obfuscation in this document, it contains plans to develop metropolitan land and how public services will be paid for. Representations by local organisations on this document will be much more difficult to make because it is literally the length of war and peace!”

The local plan consultation started on 28 February 2024 and will end at 6pm on 10 April 2024. Residents can view the plan on Ealing Council’s website by clicking here and download the 16 PDF documents that have been produced which run to 1,200 pages. Comments addressing the information provided in the local plan can then be emailed to localplan@ealing.gov.uk

As well as downloading and printing out the local plan, Ealing Council has put hard copies in all libraries across the borough.

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