Hayes & Harlington Gazette
‘We are concerned poor people are being squeezed out’
FAITH LEADERS SAY PLANS FOR EALING BOROUGH ARE NOT ‘RADICAL ENOUGH’
PLANS that will shape Ealing for the next 15 years are “squeezing” the poorest out of the borough, faith leaders have claimed.
Over the last few months, Ealing Council has been welcoming input from locals about their plans for the future of the borough.
Under the new plans, Ealing wants to prioritise the climate crisis, fighting inequality and creating jobs within the borough. The last 2012 local plan focused on developing communities near the Elizabeth Line and Western Avenue. But, the new document will prioritise growing the seven towns in the borough including Greenford, Periviale, and Southall.
Council leader Peter Mason writes: “This means having a more fair and balanced approach to new development and investment, whereby all the seven towns will have a prominent role accommodating growth, and as a result will benefit fairly from new investment.
“This new approach to accommodating growth is important so no town is left behind and ensures that no town carries a significant burden or pressure for new development, as we have seen in Southall and parts of Ealing and in Acton in recent years.”
Residents were invited to share their thoughts at a Local Development Plan Advisory Committee on Monday February 6.
Plans spoken about included areas of the borough earmarked for residential developments to help build the thousands of new homes needed for the increased population. And ambitious plans to change how people travel in the borough, creating 20-minute neighbourhoods that will reduce the number of small journeys made by car.
Mark Poulson, a Church of England minister in Southall, expressed the thoughts of 40 faith leaders in the town who are representing some of the largest faith communities in London. He said: “We think there are some worthy aspirations in the plan and we think they are in danger of not being fulfilled because they are not radical or ambitious enough.
“We are very concerned about community, that the word affordable is far from it. Mixed housing is essential so that local people, especially in poorer areas are not excluded by the vast prices.”
Mr Poulson said that many hard-working people in Southall are having their livelihoods threatened because of council initiatives to reduce parking spaces and car use across the borough. He said: “We are very concerned that the poor are being squeezed out because people who’ve been made unemployed in our factories are looking to work as uber drivers, and van drivers and literally have vehicles for survival and have nowhere to park.”
The minister asked the committee to be more ambitious with their travel plans. He continued: “We want to take that aspiration and be a lot more radical in terms of transport, in terms of park and ride, in terms of effective bike lanes across areas like Southall it is extremely dangerous to use a bike”.
Oliver, head student at Twyford Church of England High School, told the committee that many of his peers fear they will not be able to afford to live in the borough they grew up in. He said: “Many young people in the borough have lived here all their lives and have a deep connection with west London as a unique area for opportunities, culture and connections.
“Despite the surge in flats being proposed people my age and the local population cannot afford to rent, let alone buy, the vast majority of these apartments being proposed. We ask what provisions could be made in the future to make sure locals are not priced out of the market.”
Steve Barton, Strategic Planning Manager for Ealing Council, assured residents that plans for the borough include genuinely affordable homes. He said: “The planning system is not perfect, we have to work in a national and regional policy framework which requires us to do some things that perhaps even some councillors perhaps would aspire to do differently.
“The authority used to be a major player in delivering affordable housing but now we’ve been reduced to the sidelines and I think it is a credit to this administration that it is building, or that it is planning to build, far larger levels of genuinely affordable housing that has ever been aspired to in recent times in the face of great difficulties in terms of lack of government grant and in a system where the market is dominated by a small number of high volume house builders.
“I know when I speak to young people, the concern about affordability to rent and to buy is genuine and it is heartfelt. I think there are some major challenges for the council, some major challenges on how we deliver the infrastructure we aspire to provide. We know those needs are evidenced but the funding is not always there to provide so there will be some difficult decisions ahead.”
The Local Plan is still under consultation and further revisions are still to be made by the council following public feedback before it is submitted for approval by the Secretary of State.