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Ealing residents vent anger as London Mayor Sadiq Khan will not overrule Ealing Council to stop Clarion Housing development on Twyford Abbey

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has said the Greater London Authority (GLA) will not stop Ealing Council‘s approval to allow Clarion Housing to build 326 flats spread across seven blocks at historic Twyford Abbey, West Twyford. 

On 19 October 2022, Ealing Council’s planning committee gave the controversial project the green light, despite 256 people objecting to it and only 6 expressing support.

In November (15 November 2022), Dr Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton along with Dr Onkar Sahota, chair of the London Assembly met with the GLA planning committee before the Mayor of London took his decision of which he said he would not intervene.

Mr Khan said: “I am content to allow the local planning authority to determine the case itself, subject to any action the Secretary of State may take, and do not therefore wish to direct refusal or to take over the application for my own determination.”



Kiran Rao, a local resident said: “The outcome for West Twyford residents could not be worse and will have negative health impacts for this and future generations to come.  It is the complete lack of integrity in the planning process at every stage that really grates and we can only conclude that this has been a fait accompli from the outset.  The process has been neither fair nor transparent, with policies designed to protect us being disregarded and manipulated to benefit of the developer.  In our climate emergency and in an area of significant health inequality, this is shocking and disgraceful.”

Ms Rao added: “The Mayor of London espouses the need to address health inequality and air pollution but does not back this up with the action and leadership needed in areas like West Twyford.  We have been trodden on by the political system locally and regionally, which appears to have its own agenda of favouring the developer and the process has show us the utter lack of scrutiny and incompetence.

“What this has also shown us as a community is that there is no social justice, just rehortical gesturing.  And as for Ealing Council’s newly published Air Quality action plan, well let’s face it, it’s just a load of hot toxic air…and you wonder why people are not engaged with the political process.”

John Haston, another resident concerned about the approval told EALING.NEWS: “I lived in Brentmead Gardens adjoining Twyford Abbey for 35 years and I am outraged that Ealing Council, the Mayor of London, English Heritage, Ealing Civic Society and the adjacent St Mary’s Church (Church of England) have not supported the objections to a development on such an amazing site of Historic interest – that is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, that is of archaeological interest and history, it has Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) status, it is also a Site of Significant Import Nature Conservation (SINC) which will now have 325 Apartments and over 100 car parking space trampling all over the site and wooded areas, no proper Cost Plan was submitted in the Planning Application justifying such a large number of apartments and if granting approval was not bad enough – to give it to Clarion Development’s after they have been the subject of a BBC television programme, devoted to the companies poor housing record is appalling.

“Ealing Planning have totally ignored any of these reasons because housing is badly needed in London – but for who? affordable housing at £500k for a minimum sized 2 bedroom house is not serving the housing needs of people who need houses. Ealing have also been warned there is not enough electricity in the grid to service the number of homes being planned in the Borough of Ealing.

“The Mayor of London never mentioned any of the above factors in his letter of approval – some which he has to ”approve” – as they are beyond the remit of the Local Planning Authority. He simply states he is ”content for the local planning authority to to determine  and do not therefore wish to direct refusal or take over the the application for my own determination”. A copout in my opinion.

“It is as if the local residents opinion, reasons and objections account for nothing. Why bother taking an interest in your local surrounding area when your Local Authority is not interested.”

Ealing Liberal Democrat Councillor for Hanger Hill, Athena Zissimos told EALING.NEWS: “It is very sad that the Labour London Mayor despite his own office’s reluctance to greenlight this project initially, has failed the residents of West Twyford and not called in the application when he had the opportunity to do so. His decision makes a mockery of all the reasons his office did not approve of the project to begin with. Even a driveway less than a metre from a primary school entrance for an estate of 325 flats is not a red signal to stop this development, when elsewhere in Ealing the Council is promoting Safe School Streets.”

Councillor Zissimos added: “In West Twyford where a School Street is not possible because the road is the only access in or out of the West Twyford, the Council has not even tried to mitigate the circumstances for these children and has approved the application.  It is sad that the only thing that matters is housing at any cost, there never seems to be a cost that is too much, the destruction of over hundred mature trees is not enough, the destruction of green space is not enough, for either Ealing Labour Council nor it seems the Labour Mayor.

“There is lots of talk about rewilding, biodiversity, more trees for Ealing, but not it seems for the residents of West Twyford stuck between the A40 and the North Circular on the edge of the borough and all but forgotten by the Labour Council. Soon all we will have are endless flats and no soul, as we have cemented over it.”

Ealing Liberal Democrat opposition spokesperson on Planning and Housing Cllr Jon Ball told EALING.NEWS: “The Labour Mayor of London has decided to allow the Twyford Abbey development to go ahead ignoring hundreds of objections. The scheme will build on metropolitan open land including an important nature conservation site, fell over a hundred trees and increase traffic on the already congested roads nearby. The Mayor could have given Ealing residents a Christmas present but instead he gives us a lump of coal.”

Conservative Councillors for Hanger Hill, Fabio Conti and Gregory Stafford told EALING.NEWS in a joint statement: “We are very disappointed by London’s Labour Mayor rubber stamping Ealing Labour Councillors approval to build on the green space at Twyford Abbey against the wishes of the local community. For over a year we have been supporting local people who have fought very hard to try and save their last green space.

They added: “We will now focus on ensuring the commitments made by the developers are upheld.”

Following approval of the plans by Ealing Council, leader of the borough, Councillor Peter Mason tweeted in November that he was “delighted” by the decision of the planning committee.

He said: “Delighted that @EalingCouncil ’s Planning Cttee have given the go ahead to the restoration of Twyford Abbey this evening. The plans brought forward by Clarion are a good example of delivering gentle density, tenure blind, affordable housing, at no more than 6 storeys, well below the heights we are seeing elsewhere in the Borough, that dominate too much of the discussion on how we secure good growth. Trees lost will be replanted, biodiversity net gain achieved.”




Ealing Green Party chair Neil Reynolds told EALING.NEWS in November: “The planning committee has made the wrong decision by approving the Twyford Abbey application. Deciding to allow developers build on metropolitan open land, and felling so many mature trees, will be bad for the environment, wildlife and local residents.”

He added: “The Mayor of London will hopefully step in and reject this. I am grateful to Green Party GLA member Sian Berry for writing to the Mayor urging him to do so. Ealing Labour promised to re-wild and re-grow, the reality is they just want to build and build”.

Jean-Paul Beaini, who has lived in the Hanger Hill ward area for five years and been on the committee for West Twyford Residents Association for three years spoke at the planning committee meeting in October. He told EALING.NEWS: “The damage to the environment and the community that this development will cause is unthinkable. Notable objectors to the development are the Mayor of London and the GLA, our local MP, the adjacent primary school, numerous environmental charities and various local resident’s associations including ours. We are yet to see any noteworthy support for the scheme except from the developers. It is obvious this development is not fit for purpose.”

In her objection to the development, Ealing Central and Acton MP Dr Rupa Huq wrote: “I am unconvinced that this proposal represents the best possible long-term, sustainable and sensitive solution for the future of the Twyford Abbey site that would safeguard the heritage and biodiversity of the site and provide real benefits to the Abbey’s neighbours. Along with local residents, I believe this application represents gross over-development of a sensitive site, which should be rejected.”

Previously, Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Hina Bokhari AM wrote to the Mayor. In a tweet she said: “Today I wrote to the Mayor to support Ealing Lib Dems in their effort to save Twyford Abbey & prevent a planning application which will see its removal. He must take action now to preserve the area’s biodiversity and heritage, and reduce air pollution and health inequality!”

Clarion says in its plans that “Our vision is to open up the Twyford Abbey grounds to the public for the first time, providing access to previously closed off parkland and delivering much needed housing to the area”. It claims that 36% of the housing built will include 36% “genuinely affordable homes” and that the Abbey building will be saved. “Our aim is to preserve this rich history and restore the Abbey to its former glory.”

EALING.NEWS approached Ealing Council for a comment. It said: “We noted you have a comment from Councillor Mason. We have nothing further to add.”

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