THE former manager of Gunnersbury Park’s Small Mansion Arts Centre has attacked plans to build luxury housing on the site as ‘tired and deeply conservative’.

Paul Butler, who used to run painting classes at the historic building, said the proposed rescue package showed a worrying lack of imagination

He accused Jura, the consultants behind the plan, of ‘riding roughshod’ over the covenant, which says the land must be maintained for public use, and ignoring opportunities to develop the arts.

The arts centre was based in the park for more than two decades before being booted out three years ago, despite offering to more than treble its rent to £50,000.

The building has lain empty ever since and Mr Butler claims Hounslow and Ealing councils, which jointly run the dilapidated site, have wasted up to £150,000 by dragging their feet over plans for regeneration.

In a joint letter with his former colleague, Linda James, he states: “Jura propose a solution which rides roughshod over the covenant in order to generate short term capital but makes virtually no meaningful reference to the need to generate revenue in the longer term.

“The plan makes virtually no reference to the need to revitalise the park as a dynamic cultural and sports venue for the benefit of the people.”

The pair add that the ‘tired and deeply conservative proposal’ fails to take account of the impact of nearby developments.

Public consultation about plans for the park is about to begin, with the preferred option being to raise money for regeneration by selling land along Lionel Road North for regeneration.

Council leaders claim this is the only way to raise the estimated £39m cost of saving the rapidly deteriorating park and its many listed buildings.

An Ealing Council Spokeswoman, said: "Gunnersbury Park provides a range of cultural and leisure facilities for residents in Ealing, Hounslow and beyond and the councils are committed to finding alternative and financially viable uses for each building.

“The lease held by the Small Mansion Arts Centre was terminated in March 2006 in order to have dialogue with interested parties regarding short-term leasing of the building.

“As discussions weren't productive, the councils decided to focus on the wider strategy to secure the future of all buildings in Gunnersbury Park.”

The proposals for regeneration are available to view at