Fully affordable 20-storey tower is approved on appeal in Ealing

  • Planning Inspector highlights the “exemplary design” of developer Southern Grove’s scheme 
  • Southern Grove was forced to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds taking ‘55 West’ to appeal despite the scheme providing 100% affordable housing
  • The project is being delivered in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association

London, 2 November 2021 – Ealing’s future as one of London’s most dynamic new residential hubs has been assured after permission for a 20-storey, fully affordable residential tower was granted on appeal1. 

Developer Southern Grove has successfully overturned an earlier decision to refuse planning permission for the design-led scheme in West Ealing, with the  planning inspector praising its “exemplary design”.

The development — called 55 West — will incorporate 144 affordable apartments, with split level ground floor amenity and commercial spaces. The scheme incorporates two towers — one of 18 storeys and one of 12 storeys with communal roof gardens overhead.

In total, 50 homes (35% of the development) will be available at London Living Rent while the remaining 94 (65%) would be available under London Shared Ownership. 

The building — which will be operated in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association — will stand at the junction of Manor Road and Drayton Green Road, almost directly over West Ealing train station where the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line will call. 

It will offer residential properties built directly over transport hubs that normally feature less than 40% affordable housing.

55 West was originally designed as a 26-storey tower but this was scaled back following discussions with local residents and the council in 2019. A revised application was submitted in May 2020 but it was refused by Ealing Borough Council’s planning committee last December, even though it was recommended for approval by council officers. 

Ealing is in desperate need of more housing and this scheme boasts 100% affordable homes, yet Southern Grove was forced to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds taking the decision to a planning appeal. 

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 GLA initiative meant to incentivise and reward developers who include at least 75% affordable housing in their proposals. 

Griffiths wrote:

“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. If the Fast Track Route is really meant to work in that way, then to my mind, the incentive it offers is diluted somewhat.” 

Griffiths went on to state in his decision notice that:

“The proposal would deliver 144 units of 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, or the setting and thereby the significance of heritage assets. On that basis, it would optimise rather than maximise the use of the site.”

Ealing is undergoing a massive transformation at the moment following a string of planning decisions that will update and modernise the area. Last month, housing association Peabody was granted permission for 564 homes across three blocks in Southall. Around 50% of the homes will be affordable.

In April, councillors voted to approve a 26-storey building that will replace the council’s own office buildings on Uxbridge Road with 477 homes alongside offices and commercial space. In 2019, another residential tower for West Ealing rising to 25 storeys was approved on Hasting Road as part of a larger scheme providing a total of 183 homes.

The Planning Inspectorate decision was delivered on Friday1. 

Tom Slingsby, CEO of Southern Grove Group, 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.”