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Outrage and shock as Ealing Council planning committee gives approval to Clarion Housing plans for Twyford Abbey

Despite Ealing residents objecting to Clarion Housing plans to build 326 flats spread across seven blocks at historic Twyford Abbey, West Twyford, Ealing Council planning committee has given the green light last night (19 October 2022) for it to be developed on.  Only the intervention of the GLA can stop it going ahead.

As part of the agreement, Clarion has given up some of site to the Council for a park to be built on it while the rest of the open land will be built on and according to those against the plans, the woodland will be destroyed.

Hanger Hill ward councillors where Twyford Abbey is located have expressed their shock at the decision by Labour-run Ealing Council and its councillors on the planning committee to agree to the plans.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Athena  Zissimos told EALING.NEWS: “It is very disappointing that Councillors on the Planning Committee, could not see how upsetting the loss of Twyford Abbey and surrounding grounds were to the residents, despite not having access to the grounds, the residents valued them, they were important to them. The housing crises does not justify us building on every piece of green space available to us.”

She added: “We must not believe that there is nothing left that is sacred, that nothing is worth preserving, in the name of more housing, only 36% of which is affordable, and some access to some part of that closed off land. Ealing is in danger of becoming a borough with nothing but blocks of flats, and no soul, because we are ready to sweep away 1000 years of heritage, and more than 150 trees and seven acres of open land to build 325 flats.”

Councillor Zissimos said there was only one option left for the campaigners to stop the development. “The only hope West Twyford residents have to stop the development is for GLA to step up and protect the Metropolitan Open Land.”

Conservative Councillors for Hanger Hill, Fabio Conti and Gregory Stafford told EALING.NEWS in a joint statement: “We are extremely disappointed with the Labour planning committee members voting to approve the application that will see over 150 established trees being removed to make way for this development on West Twyford’s last green space.”

They added: “This proposal not only go against protections in place to protect metropolitan open land, but also the council’s own objectives to re-grow and re-wild our borough. Ealing Labour talk big on protecting green space but when it comes to it they fail to deliver. We will continue the fight as this application now moves to the GLA.”

Ealing Green Party, who attended and protested outside Ealing Town Hall before the planning committee meeting tweeted their shock at the result of the vote: “The planning committee has just voted in favour of the proposed development over Twyford Abbey, which would see the removal of 157 trees!! This is despite over 250 objections from the public. Participative democracy is dead!”

Ealing Council leader Councillor Peter Mason tweeted that he is “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.”

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. 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.”

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.”

On Ealing Council planning application proposals, out of 262 comments received (as of 19 October 2022), 255 have objected to it.

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