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Southern Grove wins Ealing tower approval on appeal

3 Nov 21 Plans for a high-rise block of flats at West Ealing train station have been cleared on appeal, after local councillors initially rejected the scheme.

55 West will be built next to West Ealing station
55 West will be built next to West Ealing station

Developer Southern Grove can now press ahead with its 55 West scheme, a development of 144 apartments, all designated as  affordable.

The scheme incorporates two towers — one of 18 storeys and one of 12 storeys with communal roof gardens overhead and split level amenity and commercial spaces at ground floor.

The building — which will be operated in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association — will stand at the junction of Manor Road and Drayton Green Road, almost directly over West Ealing train station where the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line will call.

55 West was originally designed as a 26-storey tower but this was scaled back following discussions with local residents and the council in 2019. A revised application was submitted in May 2020 but it was refused by Ealing Borough Council’s planning committee in December 2020, even though it was recommended for approval by council officers.

The planning inspector backed Southern Grove’s plans, saying: “The proposal would deliver 144 units of much-needed affordable housing in a tall building of exemplary design that would have no harmful impact on the character or appearance of the area, or the setting and thereby the significance of heritage assets. On that basis, it would optimise rather than maximise the use of the site.”

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High-rise development in leafy suburban Ealing is a contentious issue. Last month, housing association Peabody was granted permission for 564 homes across three blocks in Southall. In April, councillors voted to approve a 26-storey building that will replace the council’s own office buildings on Uxbridge Road with 477 flats. In 2019, another residential tower for West Ealing rising to 25 storeys was approved on Hasting Road as part of a larger scheme providing 183 apartments.

Southern Grove chief executive Tom Slingsby said: “It’s fantastic to have secured permission to create what is a hugely attractive landmark scheme, which raises the bar on architectural design in Ealing, but we should never have needed to take this to planning appeal at all. Considering that we are bringing forward a fully affordable development in a borough that is failing to meet its housing quota, it was surprising that the application was met with so much opposition.

“Despite this, we are delighted to have won a victory for common sense with the overturning of the original refusal decision. For developers, the planning appeals process takes too long, is too expensive and costs first-time buyers, young professionals and families valuable opportunities when it comes to how much housing is available to them.”

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