AT LAST someone has seen through and challenged Robert Gurd, the chairman of Ealing Civic Society.

In my opinion and, I suspect, that of many members of Ealing Council planning department, this is well overdue.

I refer to the report in the Gazette on the cross examination of Mr Gurd by Mr Russell Harris QC, representing Glenkerrin at the Arcadia planning inquiry, who heard him say that he had "no professional qualifications in architecture or urban design".

With regard to his evidence on damage to trees, Mr Harris said: "You (Mr Gurd) are not an aboriculturist (sic), neither do you have the technical knowledge to suggest this."

A further telling remark was: "You don't want the existing character to change." The Gazette reports that Mr Gurd stated in his evidence: "Traditionally, a landmark building is associated with civic or ecclesiastical use...". Made in say 1890 this statement would have been largely correct, but made today it demonstrates that he is completely out of touch with reality and certainly has no property expertise.

Whether or not you like them is irrelevant, but this would appear to mean that Mr Gurd does not accept that Millbank Tower, Centre Point, the Post Office Tower, the various buildings at Canary Wharf, The Gherkin, in the City, The Ark, at Hammersmith, Wembley Stadium and the Bull Ring, Birmingham are landmark buildings?

That being the case, how can the inquiry inspector accept his evidence or indeed anyone else take him seriously?

I have personal experience of Mr Gurd tabling endless objections and alternative proposals to an important development in Ealing where, in my opinion as a surveyor, all he achieved was to delay the start of the scheme by at least a year although his self congratulatory comments to the Gazette would have you believe otherwise.

What did come out of the meetings I attended at Ealing Civic Centre was that he and his principal co-objector could not read the technical drawings, yet they persisted in putting forward alternative technical proposals!

Unfortunately, the planning legislation which allows for public participation does not also allow for disregarding spurious and uneducated arguments which delay and increase the cost of both developments and public inquiries.

In view of his exposure at the Arcadia inquiry, perhaps Ealing Civic Society should consider whether Mr Gurd should continue to be their mouthpiece?


Ealing W5