Locals battle to stop John Lewis plan to build 20-storey tower blocks

Locals battle to stop John Lewis plan to replace Waitrose supermarket with 20-storey tower blocks

  • Campaigners say retailer ‘ignored’ public opinion and local planning guidance

Locals are battling to stop John Lewis’ plan to replace Waitrose supermarket with huge 20-storey tower blocks. 

A ‘Stop the Towers’ campaign has been organised by residents of west Ealing who are against the plans for almost 430 homes. 

Campaigners say John Lewis has ‘ignored’ public opinion and local planning guidance.

The public consultation on the controversial plans opened on August 10 and closes on August 31 – a move objectors say is a ‘deliberate attempt’ to avoid scrutiny, as many residents will be on holiday and won’t have time to respond. 

In February this year, Ealing Council leader Peter Mason said the plans were ‘disappointing to say the least’. 

John Lewis wants to demolish a Waitrose store and build almost 430 homes in its place 

He added that it felt like the ‘big institution’ was trying to ‘twist arms and bully through a scheme’. 

Cllr Mason questioned the height of the four proposed tower blocks, with the tallest reaching 20-storeys. 

READ MORE: Would you like to live in a John Lewis home? Department store giant will build 1,000 new flats fitted out with its own furniture on sites of old Waitrose stores in £500m deal

Subject to ‘ongoing discussions’ with the Labour-led council, 35 per cent of the homes will be affordable – although the documents do suggest this could drop to 20 per cent. 

Co-chairs of the campaign, Denise Colliver and Justine Sullivan stated: ‘The arrogance of JLPs development team is breath-taking. 

‘They’ve ignored both the weight of public opinion and also the Local Plan site-specific guidance.’

They added: ‘No one objects to appropriate, proportionate development that will genuinely benefit local communities. But yet again we are seeing developers trying to ride roughshod over local people’s wishes and needs, ignoring democratically implemented local plans, just to make a fast buck.’ 

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the council, Gary Malcolm, said: ‘There have been too many tall towers built over the past fiver to ten years. 

‘A huge amount of housing is needed but it’s better to have lower density schemes,  that are good for families.’ 

Cllr Malcolm added that John Lewis is going against one of the council’s policies which was brought in last year to crack down on tall buildings.

John Lewis has said residents will have until the date of the planning committee to submit their views on the major development.  

A ‘Stop the Towers’ campaign has been organised by residents of west Ealing who are against the plans for almost 430 homes

The plans also include a café, a Waitrose and ‘public realm improvements’ on Alexandria Road. 

A planning statement submitted by Savills on behalf of the retailer says it is ‘an exciting and significant opportunity to optimise a well-connected, heavily under-utilised, brownfield site’.

The Conservative group said: ‘We are listening to residents’ stated concerns about the proposed height of the development, the amount of parking proposed, the potential strain on local infrastructure, and the provision of retail. All of these questions need to be addressed.’

The department store giant is hoping to build 1,000 new flats on sites of old Waitrose stores as part of a £500 million deal, with its flagship scheme in Bromley in addition to a site in Mill Lane, Reading.

A spokesperson for John Lewis said: ‘As the housing crisis continues, we have the opportunity to make better use of a supermarket and car park site to deliver much-needed homes for the local area, as well as improved community facilities, new commercial space and a new Waitrose shop. 

There are four proposed tower blocks, with the tallest reaching 20-storeys, in addition to smaller buildings 

‘We’ve set out our ambition to maximise the delivery of affordable housing to ensure good availability of quality, rental homes for local people, including nurses, teachers and other key workers. 

‘This is an ongoing process where we’ve been working closely with a range of stakeholders and will continue to do so while the application is considered. 

‘The plans have been submitted to Ealing and the local authority will now consider the application in line with all relevant planning policies. 

‘We are confident that Ealing will welcome feedback from local residents between now and determination of the application as has always been the case with other major applications in the borough.’

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