Changes to Look Out for in Ealing Borough in 2023

Housing developments, ULEZ expansion and new road designs ahead

Ealing Town Hall viewed from the south. Picture: Ealing Council

January 4, 2023

New fines for drivers, more affordable housing and a battle in court for the future of the Town Hall are all expected to impact residents across Ealing this year. Ealing Council will continue to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, housing shortage and climate emergency in a number of moves in 2023.

One of the biggest measures to impact the borough is the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will now impact everyone across the borough not just those living east of the North Circular. Building projects will continue across Acton, which will see hundreds of new homes built this year.

Ealing Council will also implement a number of measures which it says are aimed at tackling the Climate Crisis and reducing the borough’s impact on the environment. The council will be encouraging residents to have their say on the future of the borough in their new Local Plan.

Motorists will be forced to pay £12.50 to drive if their cars don’t qualify for an exemption from the ULEZ charge. These charges will be introduced in August 2023, when the zone is expanded out to the M25.

The ULEZ is currently in place across Acton, but this summer it will be expanded to the whole borough. This means people in Ealing, Northolt, Southall and Greenford will be asked to pay the charges to drive in the city if their car is not compliant.

Over the last few years, a massive project to give the South Acton estate a makeover has been underway. A decade ago, the redevelopment of the area began, with the aim of delivering more than 3,400 new homes, new shops, community facilities and parks to the estate.

This year, hundreds of flats are set to be completed on Frampton Court, Belgrave Close, Avenue Road and Cheltenham Place. In addition, four courtyard-style blocks between 2 and 12 storeys will be built along Bollo Lane.

Construction should also be completed in Barwick House, Carisbrooke Court, the South Acton Working Men’s Club and Brouncker Road. New flats are due to be built on the site of Doyle House.

Although the project has been running since 2013, the Acton redevelopment still has many years to go. The final phase, which will see new flats built on the site of Harlech Tower, is not due to be complete until 2029.

This year the first set of new homes to be built as part of the Friary Park estate makeover will be completed, according to Catalyst, the housing group behind the controversial project. The project has attracted opposition from residents who fear the new tower blocks will change the landscape and character of the area.

The Friary Park development was increased by Ealing Council’s planning committee in October 2022. A total of 1,228 new flats will be built across a number of tower blocks, one of which was increased from 12 storeys to 17 storeys in the plans approved three months ago.

The scheme has divided Acton residents for years. In October, more than 900 people opposed the expansion of the towers with Cap the Towers campaigner and resident Sean Fletcher deeming the 24-storey tower block a “grotesque overdevelopment” and expressing concern about the lack of outdoor public space compared to the number of homes being built.

Other residents have expressed excitement for the project which will bring more affordable homes to the town. Cecilia Aridegbe, resident and chair of the Residents Steering Group said in October, “We are seeing progress and love how the building works are coming along and we are excited about our future homes.”

Demolition began in 2021, and now just two years later the first set of homes is set to be opened to residents. The second phase of construction will begin this year, with the whole development expected to be completed in 2027.

Residents hoping to save the Town Hall from being turned into a luxury hotel will have their say in court in February this year. Plans to turn the community space into a hotel have been in the works since 2016, and have been strongly opposed ever since.

Campaigners object to the plans on the grounds that Victoria Hall, which makes up a fifth of the Town Hall, is owned by the people of Ealing, after it was built by public subscription in 1893.

Victoria Hall is now run by a charitable trust that states the venue must benefit the local community. Over the years it has been home to a number of events from political debates, concerts, and exhibitions

In March 2021, the Charity Commission said Ealing Council could take over the property of the charitable trust – a decision that has been criticised by the Friends of Victoria Hall and is at the heart of the legal argument.

After being postponed twice, the issue will finally be heard at the First Tier Tribunal on February 20 and 22 next year, nearly two years after the legal challenge was first launched.

Changes to the local road network are also in prospect. Over the last few years, campaigners have continued to call for Uxbridge Road to be made safer after a number of deaths and accidents, one of which included a schoolgirl getting hit by a van.

In December 2022, an Ealing Council spokesperson said safety along the road was a “high priority” as they continue to roll out the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood programme. The council is continuing to create a “high-quality” cycle route along the road, sections of which have already been implemented from Ealing Common to Acton and the Iron Bridge to Southall Park.

Hanwell Bridge to Iron Bridge will begin design and implementation in 2023 and into 2024. Consultation is currently underway to modify Lido Junction with Northfields Avenue.

As the council continue to encourage residents to use alternative methods of transport, a number of new electric vehicle charging points will be created this year. A total of 170 new points will be opened across the borough, there will be more fast chargers and lamp column sockets, designed to be used quickly and easily by electric vehicle drivers.

This comes as the council continues to unveil the £10 million programme aimed to support local people to choose walking, cycling and scooting over their car for shorter journeys.

Ealing Council is continuing to draft their new Local Plan this year, with residents invited to submit opinions and thoughts about plans for the borough. The new document will shape Ealing over the next 15 years, with the borough council identifying three key themes: Tackling the climate crisis, fighting inequality, and creating good jobs and growth.

A consultation process is currently underway, with residents able to comment on the draft document until 25 January. Once the consultation is closed, Ealing Council will review and assess responses.

The final proposals for the plan are expected to be submitted in Autumn 2023 in a planning document for a statutory consultation period of six weeks. Following this, it will be submitted to the government for examination by an independent inspector from the Planning Inspectorate before the council adopts it officially in 2024.

The draft Local Plan can be viewed here.

Megan Stanley - Local Democracy Reporter