There are a host of plans and projects taking shape that will capitalise on improved transport links from Crossrail and drive regeneration in the borough. Improved travel times will effectively make Ealing a ‘zone one’ location.
The area is already beginning to benefit from the ‘Crossrail effect’ – with development hotspots around the five towns in the borough on the Crossrail route.
When it opens in 2019, the Crossrail route will run more than 62 miles from Reading in the west, through new tunnels below London, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood via Canary Wharf in the east. Along the way, it will take in Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing Hanwell and Southall stations.
These will each benefit from better buildings, new ticket halls and other modernisation but there will also be improvements made to the areas immediately around these five stations as well. And, more widely, the areas are attracting investment and regeneration projects are already taking place that will provide opportunities for jobs, homes and leisure for local people.
Here we look at just some of what is going on in those areas, and beyond.
Ealing’s town centre is undergoing a number of changes, especially at the western end near the town hall, the cinema site and Dicken’s Yard. These
developments will come together to create a revitalised Ealing Broadway.
And the transport improvements do not stop with Crossrail; cycling will also get a massive boost from the work to improve cycling routes through the town centre, known as mini-Holland. Work has started on the first phase of the project.
After eight years of unrelenting pressure from the council, work is finally due to start in December on developing the cinema site opposite Ealing Town Hall.
The new multi-screen cinema will be a positive addition to the town centre, and the plans for the site also include new homes, 75,000sq ft of new retail and restaurant space and a new town square. Pedestrian links with Bond Street and Walpole Park will open up the development to the rest of the town centre.
Ealing Town Hall
Restoration of the iconic Victorian building will start in autumn 2017 to keep its history intact while making it fit for the future and reducing the financial burden on tax payers for its upkeep.
Under the plans, the town hall will undergo an extensive 18-month refurbishment. The east wing will be retained for civic use and marriages while part of the west wing will become a boutique hotel. The building’s two most iconic rooms, the Victoria Hall and Council Chamber will also be preserved and there will be other spaces available for public hire at discounted rates for the community.
The council has chosen a development partner for the project. Mastcraft, which has a track record of converting treasured old buildings into successful hotels, were appointed in July.
If the necessary planning permissions and consents are granted, the new look town hall and hotel could be reopened in early 2019.
In October 2015, Ealing Council’s cabinet agreed to completely redevelop the council’s head offices, Perceval House, next to the town hall. Built in 1982, many of the building’s electrical and mechanical services, such as heating and plumbing are coming towards the end of their life and the building is not energy efficient.
And with property prices across London continuing to rise, the Perceval House offices are now a valuable asset so the council is going to unlock the site’s potential by redeveloping it for housing, commercial space and replacement council facilities.
Under the proposals, there will be an improved customer service centre and library, as well as smaller replacement office accommodation for the council and new homes. The development could also include some commercial and retail space to complement Dickens Yard and the new cinema development.
The council is currently searching for a development partner to work with on the project and an announcement is expected in the middle of next year.
West Ealing is also set to benefit from Crossrail. The new rail link will see journey times to Paddington cut to just 10 minutes and to Canary Wharf to just 27 minutes. This is great news for businesses that want to have easy links to the rest of the capital while benefitting from lower overheads.
To capitalise on this, the council has worked with Catalyst Housing, the University of West London, West Ealing Neighbours, OPEN Ealing,
InWestEaling and ContactUs to establish a co-working hub in St James House, in St James Avenue. A co-working hub is a flexible, shared office and working space that can be used by a range of people, including freelancers, homeworkers and social enterprises.
Users will be able to rent desks, meeting rooms and network with each other. It will be a great opportunity for business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs.
When the hub opens in spring 2017, the first floor will be turned into a conventional shared workspace, whereas the second will become a ‘messier’ space for creatives and artists. In the meantime, St James Avenue, the public space outside St James House, is going to be improved to become a more welcoming space for pop-up events and activities, such as markets and outdoor performances.
The Mayor of London’s Regeneration Fund has contributed £283,320 towards refurbishing the office space and the remaining £301,790 has been secured through match-funding by the partners behind the scheme.
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Southall is benefiting from £11million of investment as part of the Southall Big Plan; a long-term project to improve the local area and create jobs and opportunities for local people.
The changes to the Southall Broadway are one of the most visible improvements after a comprehensive redesign and facelift that finished in 2015, but with Crossrail coming in a few years, the council is working with several organisations to help unlock Southall’s potential and ensure that it is ready to make the most of the opportunities that the new high speed rail link will bring.
Southall Manor House
The council is working with Ealing, Hammersmith and West London’s College to transform Southall Manor House into a centre of excellence for hospitality. The Grade II listed Southall icon has laid empty and unused for many years, but work is currently going on that will see it emerge in summer 2017 as a high-quality restaurant, venue, café and training hub.
More information on the project is available in the winter 2016 edition of Around Ealing.
The 33-hectare old gasworks site at the very west of the borough next to the Grand Union Canal is set to undergo a remarkable transformation.
This is a long-term project that is not due to be completed until 2042. However, the first homes will become available in a few years’ time and, when it is finished, the underused industrial site will be turned into a thriving neighbourhood with homes, shops, a cinema and health centre, retail space and open parkland.
More detailed information about the project timetable and planning applications is available at www.thesouthallgasworks.co.uk
Change is on the cards for Acton High Street with improvements set to capitalise on the Crossrail effect.
Acton Town Hall was comprehensively redeveloped and reopened as the Everyone Active Acton Centre in April 2014. Part of the scheme involved moving the Acton Library into the new centre, leaving the old library building ripe for regeneration. It was sold to Curzon Cinemas after they submitted a successful bid to turn it into a multi-screen cinema with a bar and restaurant. Curzon is expected to submit a planning application for the building work soon.
The high street is also set to change with the Oaks development. Planning permission has been granted to redevelop the site, with new homes and shops planned. Work has already started on site.
North Acton station square
Ealing Council bought the old Esso petrol station in front of North Acton Tube station in 2015 with money raised from recently completed residential developments in the area. It plans to turn the land into a landscaped town square, creating a civic focal point for the residents and a welcoming entrance to the Tube and train stations.
The improved entrance will also help local people to feel safer using the station at night and also make the station accessible for wheelchair users and buggies.
Work has started on the development, with decontamination of the site taking place
The Grade II listed Hanwell train station is to be preserved and fully refurbished – and the surrounding area is to be improved, including better lighting, CCTV and signs.
The council worked with residents to realise the long-standing desire to reopen the station’s south entrance in recent times, which makes it easier for people to access it from the Uxbridge Road side.
As well as two entrances, it will have two lifts; and at least four Crossrail trains per hour will stop at Hanwell during peak travel times.
New homes, a primary school, park land, retail and community space are all planned for the GlaxoSmithKline and Lyons bakery sites in north Greenford.
Almost three-quarters of the 1,965 homes at ‘Greenford Green’ will be available for rent, with the remainder for sale. A new pedestrian bridge will be built over the Grand Union Canal and Berkeley Avenue will be reopened.
A planning application has been submitted to the council with construction starting in early 2017 if the relevant permissions are secured.
The adjoining former sports pitches that were also owned by GlaxoSmithKline have been used by the council to site a new high school – William Perkin High, which opened in 2013. New community sports facilities are soon to be built alongside it.