Southern Grove gets green light for Ealing affordable scheme following appeal



Southern Grove has successfully overturned an earlier decision to refuse planning permission for a mixed-use development set to provide 100% affordable homes in Ealing, west London.

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The 55 West scheme will incorporate two 18- and 12-storey towers with communal roof gardens overhead, and will offer 144 affordable apartments with split level ground floor amenity and commercial spaces.

Of the total homes, 50 will be available at London living rent, while the remaining 94 will be offered under London shared ownership.

The building will be operated in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association.

The application for the scheme — which was initially revised and scaled back following discussions with local residents and the council in 2019 — was submitted in May 2020 and refused by Ealing Borough Council’s planning committee last December, despite being recommended for approval by council officers.

The affordable housing aspect was a key consideration of planning inspector Paul Griffiths, who criticised the council’s approach to the fast-track scheme, a Greater London Authority initiative meant to incentivise and reward developers who include at least 75% affordable housing in their proposals. 

“There is nothing particularly ‘fast-track’ about a process where officers agree with the tenure mix at pre-application stage, only for council members to deem it unacceptable when the time comes for them to make a decision,” he wrote.

“If the fast-track route is really meant to work in that way, then to my mind, the incentive it offers is diluted somewhat.”

He backed the Southern Grove scheme, saying that the proposal would deliver 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, nor the setting and significance of heritage assets.

Tom Slingsby, CEO at Southern Grove, 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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