The Charity Commission has dealt a blow to Ealing Council’s hopes of completing their sale of the Town Hall to hotel developer Mastcraft, and improved the prospects of the Victoria Hall being preserved for public use as an independent charity.
The Commission’s 13-page report says the council’s scheme could go ahead only if it is significantly modified. Its Reviewer found that the lease was in effect a permanent disposal, and that no thought has been given to whether the proposals meet public needs as set out in the charity’s Trust Deed.
In short, the Scheme as drafted and the proposals negotiated by the Trustee for the future use of the Charity’s property "cannot be said to be a more suitable and effective use of the property than the original purposes and create a significant risk to the trust property".
Details in the report set out a number of comments o the proposed scheme, and what would be needed to make it acceptable. These are set out below.
Amongst objections to the proposals, the Reviewer noted that
In relation to the proposed land swap of the Queens Hall for the Princes Hall, the report noted that
The reviewer concluded that, while there are grounds for agreeing that the Trustees could dispose of the property, the scheme as drafted is not a suitable and effective use of the charity’s property and would have to be revised if it is to proceed. Among the changes that would be needed are
Coronavirus has brought most public activity in central Ealing to a standstill – but not quite all.
Any more delay with the rebuilding of Ealing Broadway station will pose unacceptable risks to the travelling public, Central Ealing Neighbourhood Forum has warned.
Tony Miller, Chair of the Forum, says that the threat of yet further hold-up on the station could even mean that Elizabeth Line services to Heathrow – now scheduled for December 2019 – will be running before vital work on passenger access is finished.
Ealing Council has already warned that improvements to the public area outside cannot be completed until after the building itself is ready.
“We have been saying for years that the present entrance is dangerous, particularly for the disabled, those with luggage or with children in buggies,” said Tony. “Since 2011, just before the picture [left] was taken showing the stairs to street level, the number of people passing through the sole entrance each year has risen by 700,000. Yet despite promises to accelerate the work, no improvement has been made to what even then was a risky and unacceptable situation.”
The excuse from Network Rail for the new delay to the start of services is that there is a need for more testing time. This is not relevant to building stations, continued Tony, as no new technology is involved.
“We cannot accept a continuation of the present situation, which presents a serious risk of injury or worse to passengers, for which Network Rail will be clearly responsible”, concluded Mr Miller. “We need an immediate clear, unequivocal and irreversible commitment from the very top to start work without more procrastination.”
It is understood that BE have sold the whole site to British Land, who already own the aneighbouring Ealing Broadway Centre. BL are now expected to review the plan and come up with new proposals which would not meet the same objections as both the two previous Council-backed schemes. The policy vision of the new Central Ealing Neighbourhood Development Plan will also be a key factor.
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