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Secretary of State ‘calls-in’ damaging Ealing conservation area plans

The Victorian Society took the unusual step of requesting a call in as it considered Ealing Council’s approval of the plans could set a precedent which would threaten conservation areas nationwide

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has ‘called-in’ a major redevelopment of an entire block of an Ealing conservation area. The Victorian Society took the unusual step of requesting a call in as it considered Ealing Council’s approval of the plans could set a precedent which would threaten conservation areas nationwide. The decision on whether the development should go head will now be made by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry.

Senior Victorian Society Conservation Adviser, James Hughes, said: ‘Requesting a call-in is not something the Victorian Society does lightly. The plans approved by Ealing Council would have had such an irrevocable and negative impact on this Ealing conservation area that it would call into question its very existence. We are glad that the Secretary of State has recognised that the issues here are worthy of closer examination. This is a rare opportunity for clarification on the protection of conservation areas.’

A letter on behalf of the Secretary of State said: ‘In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion, that the application should be called-in. In the light of his policy, the Secretary of State has decided to call-in this application’.

Ealing Council approved plans to demolish almost an entire block within the Ealing Town Centre Conservation Area - retaining just one building and two facades. The scale of the new towers will also impact on adjoining conservation areas and harm the setting of a number of listed buildings, in particular Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Grade II*-listed church of Christ the Saviour. Ealing Council’s decision is regrettable given the huge public outcry and warnings from both the Victorian Society and Historic England that, if the scheme is built, it is likely ‘that the Ealing Town Centre conservation area would no longer merit its status’. Conversely the Council reportedly stated that ‘the plans would have no “significant impact” on conservation and said there was “no threat” to redesignate conservation areas’.

In 2014, Henderson Global Investors' plans to demolish large parts of historic Victorian buildings at Smithfield Market and replace them with a large office and retail development were rejected at a public inquiry. The Market is now set to become the new home of the Museum of London.

Wednesday 25 May, 2016

More recent item: Mayor of London should 'call in' Foyles demolition
Earlier item: Jane Fawcett, pioneering Victorian Society Secretary, has died

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