A conservation officer to support and help Ealing residents in preserving building and town heritage is to be created within Labour-run Ealing Council following a campaign by Ealing Liberal Democrats to have at least one for the borough.
In a statement, the official opposition said it has been: “campaigning for the need to have at least one conservation officer to support and assist residents in preserving building and town heritage as well as protecting the “green lungs” of the borough. The Labour administration have finally seen sense and caved into our demands with an officer responsible for almost 30 conservation areas across five of Ealing’s seven towns.”
They added: “The timing of this recruitment can only be seen as an admission by Labour that the draft Local Plan, which hugely unpopular with residents, is a charter for concreting over green space (Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land spaces) and building high density towers in town centres.”
It has been a number of years since Ealing Council has had a conservation officer. In 2018, a petition was launched by Save Britain’s Heritage to get Ealing Council to reverse its plans to axe the position.
The council said at the time that the specialist role was no longer needed. A spokesperson said: “the proposed restructure focuses on creating a more efficient team by moving away from specialist functions in planning to one where all planners have the skills and knowledge to assess applications and create policies. Ealing’s planning staff have heritage and design training and the necessary skills needed to assess the majority of applications from conservation areas or that relate to heritage matters.
The recruitment of the officer comes as Ealing Council got feedback from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who called parts of the draft Local Plan “inappropriate” as well as highlighting concern over the council’s “proposed approach towards its Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, opposition spokesperson on Planning and Housing said: “The recruitment of a conservation officer is the Labour Council acknowledging that this is essential to preserve the character and heritage of Ealing, which the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning on for a number of years. This about protecting the fabric of the building, character of the towns as well as the green spaces and the environment itself.”
Councillor Ball added: “While we recognise the importance of providing the additional genuinely affordable housing that Borough residents need, we reject the cynical removal of Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) protections across the borough. This role comes at a critical time when a draft Local Plan is being developed which outlines a development framework for the next 15 years.”
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Ealing Green Party chair Neil Reynolds said: “The appointment of a conservation officer will hopefully lead to a change of direction on the council’s environmental policy blunders. This must be the first step in protecting green belt and metropolitan open land in the borough.”