Approval for Southall Gas Works Redevelopment

20.12.10

Following many years of negotiations with the London Borough of Ealing and Hillingdon, together with the GLA, the development proposals for Southall Gas Works were considered by the London Mayor on 25 March 2010. This was only the second application to be called in for decision by the Mayor. Due to its strategic importance and the need for housing, the Mayor decided to grant permission.

The application proposals for 3,750 new homes, a hotel, cinema and 20,000m2 of retail floorspace were put to Ealing Council’s Planning Committee in November 2009 with a recommendation to approve from the Officers. However, after a four hour debate, the Committee resolved to refuse planning permission citing concerns about traffic impact on local roads.

As some of the access proposals for the development were on Hillingdon land, the application was also considered by the London Borough of Hillingdon, whose planning committee was advised to refuse planning permission for four reasons: predominately relating to traffic impact, impact on the adjacent Minet Country Park and visual impact on the Green Belt.

These decisions were referred to the Mayor, who considered the matter on 22 December 2009. Having considered the Officer’s Report, the Mayor directed that he would act as the local planning authority for the purposes of determining the application. The complexity of the case did not make the decision easy and the mayor decided that it was necessary for him to scrutinise the application in greater detail.

RPS was involved with extensive negotiations on the application with Officers of the GLA before a full report was issued to the Mayor. The determination process with the Mayor followed a similar format to that of a normal planning committee, albeit that the Mayor is the ‘Committee’. As such, the GLA Officers prepared a full report on the application which involved them reassessing a number of issues raised by consultees and the local planning authorities. On the day, each side had a time limit to make a presentation and the Mayor asked them and officers questions.

The Mayor made his decision on the day. In his view, the proposal met the test for a planning application of major significance to London, due to the homes it will deliver and the jobs it will create. He considered that failure to develop this key brownfield site could be detrimental to the future economic prosperity of West London, which is an important driver for the Capital’s entire economy.