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Ealing Lib Dems and residents attack Ealing Labour over draft Local Plan at meeting in Ealing Town Hall

Ealing Liberal Democrats have said that a “once in a lifetime opportunity to protect our green space” is being “discarded” by Labour-run Ealing Council in its draft Local Plan.

In a statement, following a Local Development Plan Advisory Committee meeting in Ealing Town Hall on 6 February 2023, the Lib Dems said the Local Plan is “damaging”.

The draft Local Plan meeting earlier this week was an opportunity for residents to provide their thoughts on the plan and how the plan was developed. Previously residents have raised concerns that there hasn’t been enough time for consultation.

Steve Barton, Strategic Planning Manager for Ealing Council said they have given 10 weeks which exceeds the legal requirement. He also revealed that as of this committee meeting, the council has had 3000 responses to the survey and 700 by email.

Representatives for local people said they believed the council has failed them.

One rep for Stop The Towers and Draytons’ Community Association, Gerald Power,  commented on the draft Local Plan consultation: “at best it is a failure to understand what a consultation is and at worse it looks we feel feel it looks a land grab for Ealing’s greenbelt and metropolitan open land (MOL).”

Others who also spoke included: Ealing Friends of the Earth, Cap The Towers, Revd Mark Poulson, Oscar Poulson, Robert Harwood, Geoffrey Payne, Ealing Matters, Five Roads Forum and St Nicholas Perivale.

In a statement, Ealing Liberal Democrats said: “It is important to balance the needs of the borough residents for economic growth, jobs and access to transport with those of the environment in which they live. We believe that this local plan is damaging to the sustainability of a future Ealing.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, Opposition Spokesperson on Planning and Housing said: “While we recognise the importance of providing the additional genuinely affordable housing that Borough residents need, and the harm that unchecked tall buildings are causing to the character of our Borough, we think that the approach taken in this plan of de-designating MOL in order to free up more sites for l development is fundamentally flawed, as our green lungs are vital to the physical and mental health of our residents.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition, is leading a response to the plan and is keen to talk to any groups who have not been engaged in the process.
“Our response is that we believe in the importance of green infrastructure to sustain us over the medium term alongside a framework of buildings for the future and connected communities. Liberal Democrats have called for the whole of Warren Farm to be designated as a local Nature Reserve. We are very concerned that the options in the recent Council report mean that around half of Warren Farm will be lost, meaning a significant loss of biodiversity and publicly accessible open space.”

The meeting follows a petition by residents asking Ealing Council to “grant residents of Ealing proper meaningful Local Plan consultation” has been set up to get the council to further extend the deadline for its draft Local Plan.

Residents feel the current deadline of 8 February 2023 is not enough time to go through hundreds of pages of detailed information the council is asking people to comment on when the consultation was announced on 30 November 2022.

In its petition, the organiser Hayley Austin says: “We believe that the consultation process has not been adequate because:

“The Council has not made sufficient efforts to engage with residents or businesses to ensure that residents and businesses are able to actively participate in decisions.
“The Council has not given adequate time for this consultation with a restricted consultation period 30th November 2022 to February 8th 2023.
“The council have not letter dropped all residents and businesses of the Borough and have failed to educate on a 500 page consultation document.”

The petition follows concerns other residents have had with the consultation and who have written to the council about their concerns. One Southall local said: “The Council is conducting this consultation from a huge position of strength, since they have been working on the new LP since about 2019. And then we are given until 8 February 2023”.

They claim the council has been working on the draft Local Plan for years and have the benefit of teams of experts to write it, which local people do not have the means of ability to respond to in such a short period of time.

The public consultation for the draft Local Plan closes on 8 February 2023.

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