Who Decides if We Need These Huge Tower Blocks?

Bollo Lane scheme may be unstoppable but residents' views must be heard



Local residents in Southfield ward will be well aware of the new proposals for new housing on Bollo Lane. The site is actually in South Acton ward, to the north, but the size of the development will mean its impact is felt far wider - 800 new units will increase pressures on local amenities and the skyline will alter for residents in Brentford, Chiswick, Gunnersbury and Ealing.

However, our part of the world is not alone in having to face the prospect of 18, 22 or 25 storey skyscrapers. I am on a mailing list called The London Week which is a weekly round-up of planning news from the GLA and London boroughs. It is clear that across the capital developments of equivalent size and bigger are planned. An article in last weeks’ Observer by Rowan Moore reported that there are 525 buildings of 20 storeys or more in the pipeline across the city.

It begs the question do we really need these skyscrapers? Liberal Democrats agree that there is a housing crisis, but are these developments the answer? Almost certainly no: new developments may tick a planning application box marked affordable housing provision, but most properties are still well beyond the means of those most in need. Consider also, the regeneration of the South Acton Estate, which has proved very successful, this has resulted in a significant increase in the number of residents but with no new building more than ten storeys high.

You do not need 25 storey skyscrapers to solve a housing crisis.

As local councillors we can oppose the development and point out some of the more absurd claims of the prospectus. The local planning authority is Ealing, this particular application (ref: 201379) should go to the Planning Committee. It may well be refused, but the developer can appeal.

Liberal Democrats say there are various ways developers can get round planning guidelines. These large developments can be referred up to the Mayor of London, and ultimately the Secretary of State can adjudicate contentious applications. Both the Mayor and the Secretary of State tend to push through these big applications despite local opposition from residents and the local planning authorities.

Sadly, it is likely that in some shape or form the proposals are likely to be granted permission. The views of local residents and the locally elected representatives will ultimately be ignored.

For local government to work Liberal Democrats believe that planning decisions must be taken locally but the process must be fair, transparent and involve all the residents and groups who might be affected by a development. This just doesn’t happen and so many decisions leave residents feeling that their views have been ignored.


Councillor Andrew Steed

Southfield ward councillor for the Liberal Democrats




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