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New 1,200 page local plan for Ealing called “impenetrable waffle” by opposition party

Ealing Council has presented a new 1,200 page local plan at a full council meeting last night (21 February 2024), that has seen proposed green belt changes and most of the metropolitan open land (MOL) changes that were in its previous draft plan cancelled or changed. 

The new local plan, which is uploaded to the council’s website, runs to over 1,200 pages. It has been 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.

Labour-run Ealing Council previously unveiled a draft local plan in late 2022 which sets out what the council seeks to do for the next 15 years covering a range of issues across Ealing including housing, environment, leisure, jobs and more.

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.”

A consultation on the draft local plan took place from November 30 2022 until 8 February 2023.  Residents and opposition parties opposed the draft local plan while organisations and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan raised concerns over what they saw in the draft.  On the initial draft plan, concerns were raised across a wide range of areas including tall buildings and open land.

Official opposition group Ealing Liberal Democrats has welcomed the changes but has also raised a number of concerns including council plans to still build a large sports facility on Warren Farm.

In a statement, the Lib Dems said: “Key changes which have occurred between the last council consultation and this one are that the original 118 sites put forward have now reduced to 81 sites. This means that 41 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 demand for housing is high in the current environment and yet the emphasis on building increasingly tall buildings in the wrong areas, such as Friary Park in Acton and Waitrose in West Ealing, risks separating and alienating residents.

“There have been swathes of stalled development sites along roadways including the Uxbridge Road especially in West Ealing and a lack of ambition in Northolt, Greenford and Southall. The level of truly affordable housing is set too low and whole generations of younger residents are actively blocked from engaging in Council housing provision. The Liberal Democrats believe that a minimum of 50% truly affordable housing is essential in engaging residents.”

Ealing Council said there will be further opportunities for residents to feedback on the new local plan. A consultation about it will start on 28 February 2024 and run for six weeks.

Councillor Jon Ball, Liberal Democrat Opposition spokesperson for Planning said: The Liberal Democrats continue to work with residents and are pleased that Ealing Council have seen sense in Green belt changes although they still have a way to go regarding Warren Farm and considering the exclusion of younger generations from access to housing which is truly affordable.”

Councillor 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!”

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