West Ealing residents label Southern Grove tower a ‘monstrosity’

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West Ealing residents, affordable homes, Southern Grove

West Ealing residents say the plans for a residential tower by Southern Grove “make a mockery of the Mayor’s vision for quality affordable homes”

Developer Southern Grove submitted plans to build a 26-storey tower in the West Ealing, dubbed ‘Ealing’s tallest tower’.

In response to the announcement, West Ealing Residents’ Association, said: “Offering up his monstrosity as a ‘golden bullet’ to London’s housing crisis, and challenging Mayor Sadiq Khan to face his ‘decision time’, chief executive Andrew Southern positions himself as affordable housing’s knight in shining armour.”

West Ealing residents aren’t convinced by the viability of the residential project, as Residents’ Association chair, Dr Gerald Power explains:

Andrew Southern says: “Ealing’s tallest building is a model of how developers should be meeting Sadiq Khan’s ‘Homes for Londoners’ vision.”

However, Dr Power replies: “Southern Grove’s plans make a mockery of the Mayor’s vision for quality affordable homes – placing a 100-metre tower on a 0.06-hectare site, jammed between roads and a railway line, with less than a square metre of outside space per household.

“It doesn’t sit in one of the Mayor’s key opportunity sites, doesn’t comply with Ealing’s democratically agreed development plans and offers up a ‘public plaza’ the width of a single tree.”

Responding to Dr Power, Andrew Southern said: “Our proposal pays regard to the Ealing Development Plan, the West Ealing Neighbourhood Plan and also the adopted and emerging London Plan, as well as national planning policies.

“It is worth noting that planning policy is forever evolving. The weight these have increases as they step towards adoption, such as the Draft London Plan, which is the most recent planning policy document from which Southern Grove takes consideration, but of course still pays regard to the West Ealing Neighbourhood Plan.”

Southern Grove stated the claims suggesting that residents would have less than a square metre of outside space per household is not correct. “In fact, private balconies are provided on each residential level of accommodation ranging from 5-7sqm per apartment. A communal recreational space is provided at roof level above the 8th floor of 106sqm. Further amenity space is provided to the south and south west of the development at ground floor level,” it said.

Andrew Southern says: “We’re working in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley…”

Dr Power points out: “This isn’t the first time the two have worked together – Southern Grove bought the BHS site in West Ealing from Philip Green’s son in law and Arcadia (with the £700m pension black hole) board member Brett Palos for £6.9m*, and sold it to Metropolitan Thames Valley for £22.5m. That’s a cool £15.6m of public money pocketed without Mr Southern breaking a sweat, from his ‘partnership’ with Metropolitan Thames Valley.”

In response to Dr Power, Southern Grove says they “worked hard to secure planning permission for the BHS site, and it was this work that increased its value.” The company also says they went above and beyond to ensure that the 98 private units that were granted planning consent were transferred into affordable tenure. This enabled the delivery of a 100% affordable development.

*Southern Grove states that the price paid was significantly more than Dr Power claims.

Andrew Southern asks: “Are we serious about creating genuinely desirable, affordable homes, or is it just something politicians are going to continue paying lip service to?” 

Dr Power responds: “£100m of GLA grant to Ealing and plans for 2500 new homes in the borough by 2022 is not lip service.

“We hope that Ealing Council and the Mayor of London will see straight through Andrew Southern’s proposals for what they are – an attempt by Southern Grove to pocket many more millions of public pounds, leaving a legacy of unaffordable, undesirable homes that he’s proud to point out he’ll never own.

“This is a bombshell, not a bullet, but many hundreds of West Ealing residents stand ready to take up his challenge, and work with the Council and the Mayor’s Office to deliver much needed, truly affordable housing that people actually want to live in.”

Andrew Southern, responds: “We are voluntarily capping the gross household income at £60,000 which is 33% lower than the £90,000 cap set by the GLA. During our public consultation, we provided a worked example of the typical applicant to a two-bed shared ownership property of £550,000. This clearly demonstrated that two key workers, for example, a nurse and a teacher on salaries of £29k and £28k, could purchase their own home with a £13,000 deposit.”

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