AFTER months of uncertainty, the controversial Dickens Yard development is to go ahead early next year.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, last month said he was content to allow Ealing Council to determine the project, based in the town centre, itself. And now work on the 698 flats, 22 shops, new community hall and town square will start in March.
The decision has been greeted with dismay by campaign groups who oppose St George's plan to build seven blocks of up to 14 storeys high.
Will French, chairman of Save Ealing Centre, said: "It's a deeply bad decision and the scheme will really do a lot of damage to Ealing. It will transform Ealing in a very poor way and we have consistently said that this is not an appropriate development.
"This is over-development of this historic site and we are currently examining our options as to whether we continue to oppose it."
Dr Robert Gurd, chairman of Ealing Civic Society, said: "This decision is not unexpected given that the Mayor of London gave it the go-ahead in October.
"Despite the approval, we still think that it would be overbearing in relation to its surroundings and, in particular, dominate the listed town hall."
Following a report to Ealing planning services, Mr Johnson said the development had the potential to 'facilitate regeneration of Ealing town centre by enhancing the retail offer, generating new employment and introducing a significant amount of residential accommodation in a location with excellent public transport access'.
And Councillor David Millican, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, added: "This marks a crucial step in our regeneration, not just of Ealing, but of the whole of the borough.
"Given the current economic climate, it demonstrates Ealing's strength as a location. Dickens Yard will play a major role in our area's future success, creating homes and jobs, improving shopping facilities and boosting our local economy."
The resolution to grant planning permission was subject to referral to the Mayor of London and the signing of a legal agreement and approval was granted on Monday, November 23.Scaffolding is now being erected to allow demolition of the old Town Hall annex and the Dickens Yard car park will remain open with the council's Perceval House car park open for public use in in evenings and weekends from December.