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Concerns raised over Ealing Council new plans for Gurnell

After having its original planning application for Gurnell refused in 2021, Labour-run Ealing Council has submitted new proposals to build a sports facility at Gurnell Leisure Centre as well as provide 295 new homes on the site.

Since releasing details last week (21 May 2024), residents and campaigners have raised concerns over what they call “inappropriate development on protected land and the dangerous precedent it will set” which has been designed by architects Mikhail Riches.

While the chair of Ealing Green Party, Neil Reynolds said: “This application, if accepted in its current form, would set a precedent allowing Labour to concrete over the borough’s green spaces.”

Residents have until 11 June 2024 to submit their comments on the planning application for the site which was closed in March 2020 by Ealing Council due to Covid-19.

Under the new plans, ten buildings of up to 10 storeys high will provide 295 homes across the development. Its previous planning application said it would build more than 600 homes on the site with buildings up to 17 storeys high.

In a statement, Councillor Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council said: “We want a destination leisure centre to serve residents, families, and the next generation of sporting champions. This radically different masterplan reflects that vision.”

He added: “We have listened to feedback from residents, sports groups, and centre users about their objections to the first, failed planning application. The new plan reflects and responds to previous concerns about the height and number of residential units.”

The council has previously said that if its planning application is approved, works would start in summer 2025 and the new leisure centre will be open in 2027.

As of 29 May 2024, of 101 comments submitted, 56 are supporting it and 44 are objecting to the planning application.

One resident said of the plans: “I’d rather there was no building on MOL but I think the need for a new leisure centre and additional housing override that concern. Therefore, I support this proposal.”

Another resident supporting the plans commented: “There is a desperate need for new housing and leisure facilities in Hanwell. Please hurry up and get this built. It’d be great to have somewhere to take my kids swimming in the local area.”

Among the objections, one resident said: “We need open green spaces more than ever and this sets a very dangerous precedent building on MOL. A bigger footprint than previous abandoned schemes. Ten story blocks near to and area of largely residential housing the proposal is hugely out of character to the area. Destruction of 153 mature trees and damage to local wildlife. 30 parking spaces for 300 flats! Residents for some distance around won’t be able to park.

“Finally this doesn’t meet Ealing’s housing needs. We need family housing, and this proposes only 26 3 bed flats. We are already about to suffer 400 student units at West Ealing. Build some decent houses to fund the new leisure centre was which was disgracefully allowed to fall derelict.”

Local campaign group Save Gurnell has highlighted its concerns over the new planning application: “Whilst we support the redevelopment of the leisure centre, we remain extremely concerned about inappropriate development on protected land and the dangerous precedent it will set.”

Save Gurnell added: “We also wanted to point out that in parallel to this application, the council are trying to remove the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) designation of this site and others – the Mayor of London has raised concerns about these changes. If approved, this site and other green spaces in the borough could be developed without such strict planning constraints and more of our much-needed green spaces could be lost forever.”

It highlighted a number of areas for objections:

  • The planned housing is inappropriate development on protected metropolitan open land (MOL) – the plans have a larger footprint than the previous scheme and encroach further into the park
  • Environmental impact including Increased pollution, significant loss of mature trees (153 in total) and impact to local wildlife
  • Increased traffic and inadequate parking (30 spaces for around 295 units)
  • Overshadowing – loss of daylight and sunlight (Peal Gardens, Ruislip Road East and the park itself)
  • Loss of visual amenity (but not loss of private view)
  • Development is overbearing, out of scale and out of character in terms of its appearance
  • The size, scale and density of the housing development is excessive for this site
  • The amount of Affordable Housing (35%) is well below strategic targets – should be 50% on public sector land
  • Housing mix not line with the Borough’s needs – vast majority one and two bed properties with only 26 three bed units
  • Non-compliance with local, regional, and national planning policy

Speaking to EALING.NEWS about the new proposals for Gurnell, Ealing Green Party chair Neil Reynolds said: “Hanwell, Ealing, Greenford and Perivale desperately need a leisure centre, after the Labour council closed Gurnell and new homes are much needed. However this application, if accepted in its current form, would set a precedent allowing Labour to concrete over the borough’s green spaces. The proportion of family properties is disappointingly low as well. A rethink is needed.”

Residents in Ealing can submit their comments on the planning application by clicking here.

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