BOSSES behind the controversial Oaks Shopping Centre redevelopment faced around 80 residents at a packed public meeting this week.
Plans to build a new 11-storey ‘landmark’ tower, dubbed the periscope due to its unusual shape, were greeted with scepticism from many at the gathering in The Rocket in Churchfield Road, Acton, hosted by Churchfield Community Association.
Lead architect Jake Snell, of Stock Woolstencroft, developer John Bourne of the Acton Regeneration Company, Ben Rogers of town planners and PR firm Maddox Associates and Brendon Walsh, director of regeneration at Ealing Council, made up the panel on Tuesday.
Mr Snell gave an overview of the refurbishment of the centre, in the High Street, and the building work to take place at the back alongside Churchfield Road and St Mary’s Burial Ground, taking in the council-owned carpark.
He said concentrating the scale in one 11-storey building reduces the height and impact of the rest of the development, which would include 149 new homes, a footpath from the High Street to Churchfield Road and a large new supermarket.
Residents were not convinced, applauding Acton Central ward councillor Daniel Crawford when he accused the developers of not listening to concerns.
He said: “The previous scheme was 10 storeys high – you consulted, went away and came back with an 11-storey building. It's not appropriate for the area.”
Mr Snell argued the periscope was not as wide and would allow for more light. He dismissed suggestions it could be relocated.
Mr Bourne said the development was restricted as little work could be done to the mall because shopkeepers there have long leases, and buying them out would be ‘virtually impossible’.
Mr Walsh agreed, admitting council officers wanted to approve the scheme. He said it was better to start a development now rather than wait 20 years for leases to expire, adding: “Certain compromises will have to be made.”
The panel could not answer how much more traffic would be generated as their traffic expert was not present, but said full details would be in the planning application.
Acton Regeneration Company is expected to submit an application soon.