West Ealing trains running again, but was the wall made more dangerous as a result of unlawful demolition works?

West Ealing station - structural damage caused by development
West Ealing station - structural damage caused by development

Following last week’s serious near miss, happily for commuters the platform at West Ealing has reopened allowing passengers on and off trains into Paddington. However as investigations continue into the cause of the near collapse of a 20ft retaining wall onto the tracks, this has highlighted more failures at Ealing Council.  A look at what was already built (without planning permission) against this single brick platform wall (above) is indicative of this series of failures. And given the proximity of this illegal structure on the Manor Road site to the wall, it’s hard to believe the demolition work didn’t contribute to the weakening of the wall. 

A clear breach of the planning conditions.   

As a result of the cancellation of trains last week, action by Stop the Towers (STT) uncovered that the developers of the Manor Road site had failed to ensure a Construction Management Plan or an agreed demolition plan was in place for the site, before the demolition works commenced.  As a result, and under pressure from STT, the council has issued a ‘Temporary Stop Notice’ closing down the site down until further notice, with Cllr Mason (Council Leader) commenting that ‘Rules exist for a reason’. 

However, rules weren’t followed in this case, so we have another one of those ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’ moments. It now appears, according to Cllr Mason, that neither a Construction Management Plan nor an agreed demolition plan had ever been produced by the developers Southern Grove (SG) or Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH). So their subcontractors (Henry Construction) had, in the words of Cllr Mason “commenced demolition without the required approvals.” 

Defending developers, not the destitute  

The Manor Road site has a history of development activity without permission, and without any enforcement action from Ealing Council. The site was unlawfully developed into a number of flats over the last decade, without planning permission or, more worryingly, without any building control. So low income families in 21st century Ealing were being allowed to live in shantytown type developments with no guarantee that regulations designed to provide safe living environments had been adhered to. Despite warnings from local residents, Ealing Council turned a blind eye to these potential death traps, and failed to take any action. 

Fast forward to December 2021 and when it was clear SG and MTVA wanted to commence work on their 22 storey tower, STT informed Ealings leadership.  Cllr Shital Manro “Head of Good Growth” assured STT that everything was above board and “all the paperwork was in order”. In fact it’s now clear that it wasn’t. And it’s taken a near disastrous wall collapse onto the main railway line to identify this failure. The question now is did he check, or was he being fed lines from the developer? What’s even more worrying is that Henry Construction have secured a £40m deal with Ealing Council to build on six other sites in the borough (Arden Road, Dean gardens etc) link: Henry wins six Ealing council housing projects | Construction Enquirer News Henry Construction certainly knew they were starting work at Manor Road as they went to the effort to print flyers to advise local residents (not that any locals in the Draytons or Five roads received one). STT found one in Gordon Road.  Henry are used to working with Ealing Council so should, by now, know what the rules are.  Did they forget to tell the council, or did they tell the council they were about to start work and someone at the council didn’t check? Whatever the answer, the failings in Ealing’s planning management are piling up.

Fighting for the rights of residents, your Stop The Towers team.

Stop The Towers