Councillors voted to unanimously refuse a multi-million pound redevelopment of a derelict site despite support from 2,000 households in South Ruislip.
The Major Planning Applications Committee met at the Civic Centre in Uxbridge last night (Tuesday) to discuss plans for the £85million redevelopment of the Arla Foods site in Victoria Road.
The councillors listened to arguments for and against the proposed scheme - which included a 8,539sqm Asda supermarket, family homes, 11-screen cinema, restaurants, shops and petrol station - and agreed that development was needed in South Ruislip, just not on the scale proposed by developer Citygrove.
A large audience turned out to hear the decision of the committee on the 5.56 hectare site, formerly Express Dairies.
Sid Jackson, vice-chairman of South Ruislip Residents' Association, spoke on behalf of the association which represents around 2,000 households.
Mr Jackson said the association was in favour of the application. He said: “This application first came to our attention three years ago and originally intended to include housing, business units and a supermarket.
“We invited the developers to come to our quarterly meeting and our members said ‘why can’t we have something for us for a change’.
“If a supermarket had to be there we wanted it to create competition with Sainsbury’s. We wanted to see a cinema and restaurants. The majority of the ideas in this scheme came from residents, they want to put a heart into the community.
“The biggest concern of residents is traffic, but should the site be given over to housing this would bring over 1,000 cars into South Ruislip.
“With the exception of the youth centre and library, South Ruislip has had no money put in to developing and regenerating it in over 30 years.
“Why can’t we have something that benefits us - that’s the message that came across from the residents, ” he said.
Mr Jackson's petition was supported by South Ruislip ward councillors Shirley Harper-O'Neill and Judy Kelly.
David Seaman, who lives in Royal Crescent, South Ruislip, submitted a petition against the scheme signed by 41 people living in roads surrounding the Arla site in Angus Drive, The Fairway and Long Drive.
He said: “Our petition objecting to Arla’s development proposals is based on our belief that unacceptable levels of additional traffic and hence air pollution will be brought into South Ruislip, an area that is already suffering from heavy traffic congestion and air pollution.
“Of course the site has got to be redeveloped in some way and we would suggest that in the national interest and for those of us who live in South Ruislip, it would be better to build on this site affordable housing and a 24/7 walk-in medical centre.”
Councillors were in agreement that the proposed scheme would help to regenerate South Ruislip, and were not against the plans in general, but they had serious concerns about the size of the supermarket and the impact on traffic in the area.
If it were to go ahead, the proposed Asda would be the biggest in the borough, and South Ruislip would become the second largest town centre behind Uxbridge.
Councillor David Allam (Lab) said: “This scheme would be great if only it was not so big. I am in favour of redevelopment in South Ruislip but we need less of the commercial and more of the residential in that site.
“That way residents can get what they want without harming surrounding town centres and traffic.”
In closing the meeting, committee chairman councillor Eddie Lavery (Con) said: “I hope that we do see a new mixed use scheme come forward that meets planning requirements and residents' needs.”