Ealing MP Rupa Huq warns new tower blocks of ‘rabbit hutch’ flats will ‘ruin skyline forever’

By Isabel Millett

3rd May 2022 | Local News

by Lisa Haseldine

The MP for Ealing Central and Acton has warned that new tower blocks in the area will "ruin the skyline forever" ahead of the local elections on Thursday. 

Rupa Huq MP said plans for new developments should be carefully thought through to fit in with the local area and the needs of residents.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service about the large number of tower blocks springing up in Ealing, Dr Huq said new developments had to be looked at "on a case by case basis". Nevertheless, she said that she had concerns about how tall some of the new buildings are.

In recent years, the borough of Ealing has seen plans for a number of new developments, including the Southall Gas Works site and Perceval House, the current seat of Ealing Council.

Planning permission to knock down Perceval House and build seven tower blocks up to 26 storeys high was granted in December 2021.

Earlier this year the council announced it would clamp down on tower blocks after locals complained it was becoming a "mini Manhattan", but the following month granted planning permission to demolish the Kellogg Tower and more than 100 mature trees to build 288 flats.

popular Ealing green was saved from development in March after 400 residents complained, while residents in West Twyford recently gathered to protest a proposed flat development around Twyford Abbey they say "would be a disaster for the community".

Dr Huq spoke at meetings of Ealing Council's planning committee to object against the proposals. Explaining why she chose to speak at the committee, she said: "Because [the development] is at the very centre of Ealing. They're stealing our sky, literally, it will block out the light."

She added: "The skyline will be ruined forever."

Dr Huq said she didn't object to all development in the borough and that developments in industrial areas like North Acton, designated a "regeneration zone", were more acceptable. 

Branding herself a "fan of suburbia", Dr Huq said that development plans needed to catch up with post-pandemic life and that, after being confined to home during the lockdowns, people no longer wanted to live in tower blocks. She said: "Low density, two-storey family housing is, I think, what people are crying out for."

Adding that many new flats had been built in the area anticipating the opening of Crossrail, she said that while people continued to work from home, demand for flats would remain low.

Branding the new flats "rabbit hutches", Dr Huq said: "All these flat blocks are going up with the golden goose of Crossrail. I do think working patterns have changed.

"I think every white collar job is now at least partially from home, people have realised that works, people quite like that and we should be keeping the good stuff. Yet they are making all these rabbit hutches based on Crossrail, but people don't want flats anymore."

Dr Huq acknowledged the urgent need to address London's housing crisis and called on the government to provide more support to councils in delivering affordable housing.

     

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