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John Lewis launches legal challenge to force through tower block plans

The retailer plans to build 428 new homes in West Ealing
John Lewis plans to build 428 new homes in West Ealing - Secchi Smith

John Lewis has launched a legal appeal to push through plans to build hundreds of rental homes in tower blocks amid fierce local opposition to the proposals.

The retailer said its West Ealing housing scheme will now be considered by a planning inspector after the local council failed to make a decision on its proposals within a year of its submission.

Katherine Russell, director of build-to-rent at the John Lewis Partnership (JLP), said an appeal was “not something we take lightly”.

She added: “We believe we have strong grounds to be successful given the opportunity to transform an under-used brownfield site close to the publicly-funded Crossrail station with new homes and investment that will benefit the wider community.”

Residents are concerned about the proposed height of the tower blocks of flats
Residents are concerned about the proposed height of the tower blocks of flats

Russel said the proposals came at a time “when all political parties agree there’s a desperate need for more housing and local investment to spur economic growth”.

ANUNCIO

It follows months of hold-ups for the project which is one of three flagship housing schemes under development by the partnership. These were once seen as central to John Lewis’s plans to diversify away from the high street. although executives have recently sought to refocus efforts on retail.

Local reports last year claimed around 96pc of residents objected to the proposals.

Residents in West Ealing have raised concerns over the height of its proposed tower blocks of flats, which are being built on top of an existing Waitrose store. Local campaign group Stop The Towers last year criticised the retailer for ignoring concerns, branding the “arrogance of JLPs development team [as] breath-taking”.

The project offers an 'opportunity to transform an under-used brownfield site'
The project offers an 'opportunity to transform an under-used brownfield site'

Meanwhile, concerns have also been mounting over the proportion of affordable homes at the project. John Lewis confirmed on Tuesday that out of the 428 homes being built in its West Ealing scheme, 83 will be affordable.

It means John Lewis is falling short of its commitment to the council to provide a “minimum of 20pc affordable housing”. It had previously claimed it wanted to “deliver 35pc affordable housing” on its planned rental developments.

Peter Mason, the leader of Ealing Council, previously said the project felt “like a big institution is trying to twist arms and bully through a scheme that could be far better through a precarious planning process using the ever-present threat of an appeal”.

Ealing Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.