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Friday, 3 June 2011

Council must take the initiative over Ealing Broadway Station

The chance to improve Ealing Broadway station is back in play, after two recent developments.

The first is the collapse of property developers Glenkerrin last month. They owned the lease on Villiers House, the long-vacant building over the station, and the shops and forecourt together with the former BBC car park at the south of Haven Green. These properties have been taken over and will now be sold by Grant Thornton, the administrators. The station site will probably be separated from the Arcadia area also owned by Glenkerrin.

Second, the government has confirmed that Crossrail station improvements are being scaled back. The Transport Minister has told the House of Commons that “the plans for their redevelopment are less ambitious than they were”. This means that the original design for Ealing Broadway, with a new footbridge and escalators to all platforms, has been scrapped.

Is this the end of ambitions to make Ealing Broadway station a transport interchange fit for the 21st Century, and a prestige gateway for a rejuvenated town centre? Significantly, the Minister also said that “Crossrail and the Department for Transport remain happy to work with local authorities to facilitate extra improvements that local authorities might want to fund and deliver to regenerate the surrounding area.”

So the ball is firmly back with Ealing Council. It must quickly produce a regeneration plan for the whole of Ealing town centre in which it takes the initiative, rather than leaving it to speculative developers. Any plan must include a comprehensive redevelopment of the station site. This should cover office and retail opportunities and a properly integrated interchange for easy pedestrian and cycle access between rail, tube, bus and taxi services, reviving the whole area between the railway and Ealing Broadway, while protecting the valuable “lung” of Haven Green.

This opportunity has come about because of pressure from the present national economic situation. But this will not last for ever. We should not expect to be in the same financial difficulties in five years’ time, let alone in 2018 when Crossrail is due to open, or in 2026, the year when Ealing is meant to be delivering on its new Local Development Framework.

So let us have some far-sighted and visionary planning from our Council, looking beyond the next local elections to provide us and future generations with an Ealing worthy of the name of Queen of the Suburbs!

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