West Ealing Centre Neighbourhood Forum

2015 Annual General Meeting

CHAIR’S REPORT

 

The Government designated the West Ealing Centre Neighbourhood Forum (WECNF) in March 2013. The first Management Committee (MC) was elected in June 2013. The current MC has met eight times since being elected in June 2014. Minutes of all MC meetings can be found at www.wecnf.org. There are currently 313 registered members of WECNF.

 

Forum progress has been slow these last 12 months. In June 2014 we were keen to share and discuss our very progressive map-based spatial planning ideas with the London Borough of Ealing. (LBE). What we wanted was for our plan to stimulate a creative dialogue with LBE. After weeks of trying to arrange a meeting with LBE we eventually met with them in August and again in November 2014. WECNF did receive a positive written response from LBE but it arrived 15 weeks after the meeting! We presented the approach to the West Ealing Business Improvement District (WEBID) in October 2014. However there was no creative collaboration with either LBE or WEBID. LBE promised to set up meetings with themselves, WECNF and Sainsburys and TfL. The meetings however never materialised.

 

WECNF also tried very hard to engage with Crossrail. We organised a second well attended public meeting with Crossrail in June 2014. We were led to believe that the exact location of the Crossrail West Ealing station was not set in stone and our members and other local residents got very interested in three possible locations! In the end it became clear that the location was fixed – across the road from the PO sorting office in Manor Road. We requested to work collaboratively with LBE on land use changes around the station and especially immediately to the east of it. Nothing came of this. WECNF submitted its comments on the Crossrail West Ealing Planning Application on 2 July 2015.

 

We manned stalls at SoundBite (13 September 2014) and West Ealing Christmas Fair (6 December 2014) in Dean Gardens. We met with existing WECNF members and signed up new members.

 

In January 2015 regrouped and re-defined its vision and objectives. A Management Committee working group, instigated by Will Howe and Ian Potts, set to work and soon drafted our first text-based planning policies. In April 2015   Nigel Presky approached three planning consultants who might be appropriate to help WECNF refine our planning polices and assist us through the approval process. In June 2015 WECNF hired one of these companies – rCOH Ltd.

 

Over the last 12 months WECNF represented members’ concerns across a range of planning and quality of life issues which included:

  • the planned access and car parking arrangements for the new Sherwood Close development
  • the planned car parking and ‘traffic management’ arrangements in Felix Road brought about by the re-planning and re-densification of the Green Man Lane development to accommodate the new St John’s Primary School
  • illegal fly tipping, car parking and drug dealing in Chignell Place
  • the delays in the construction of and the planned access to the Holiday Inn Express in Melbourne Avenue

We had some financial challenges during the period and we had to re-negotiate the time scale of our grant from Awards For All/The Big Lottery. We also had a long running dispute with Locality about the payment conditions of a Government grant which Dave Randles seemed in the end to resolve in our favour in April 2015. However, Locality raised yet another query in June 2015. We managed to obtain more of the March 2012 Government FrontRunner grant from LBE. In June 2015 we applied for additional grant funding in order to be able to completely fund the work we want rCOH to carry out to support the forum’s efforts.

 

As for the road ahead, we will have waves of informal and formal consultation on our draft Neighbourhood Plan; an examination of the plan by an independent examiner: and business and residential referendums to win. Whatever the outcome, this neighbourhood planning project is unlikely to end – successfully or otherwise – before autumn 2016.

 

On a personal level, I must apologise for my poor leadership of the forum this year. I became ill in December 2014 and only saw some improvement in my health in April 2015.

 

I want to thank the members of our Management Committee for their work this year and also to thank WECNF members for their support. Thanks to you all for attending this meeting tonight.

 

Eric Leach

Chair, WECNF

7 July 2015