Portal Way and Atlas Wharf development proposals

Imperial College proposal for One Portal Way, North Acton

This application was submitted by Imperial in November 2021.  OPDC say it will not be put to the OPDC Planning Committee until mid 2022.  The ‘end date’ published by OPDC for responses to public consultation was 8th January, but OONF and GUA were given an extended deadline of 28th January.  OPDC are anyway legally required to take account of all representations up until the application is decided.

The OPDC Planning Committee considered an initial report on the proposals at it meeting on 20th January.  It appears that the Imperial team and their architects have made (or will be making) a presentation to the OPDC ‘Planning Advisory Panel’ anytime now.

We have asked about this ‘Advisory Panel’ and whether the public will be allowed to view or attend such a session.  If not, this seems a one-sided opportunity for a developer.

The proposed development involves 7 buildings.  Full planning consent is sought for the first two, including a 56 storey residential tower.  Outline consent is sought for a second phase, including two further buildings of up to 50 storeys.

OONF has submitted a detailed objection One Portal Way objection No.1  We will be submitting a further objection, including serious concerns on fire safety, in early February.

Our campaign website on this development is at  http://imperialfolly.org.uk/ and gives more background.   This includes a set of 12 reasons for objecting to the proposals, drawn up with our colleagues at Ealing Matters.  The CGI below is what the ‘North Acton Cluster will be like if this and other consented schemes are built.


We have been corresponding with Imperial College on why a university with a global reputation for work climate change should be pursuing a speculative development with buildings of 50 storeys plus.  This building typology is known to be both energy intensive and with high levels of embedded carbon at the construction stage.

The College claim that this massive project (which has nil academic or university related content) is an ‘investment’ by the College Endowment. See more at http://imperialfolly.org.uk/?page_id=25.

If you have not already submitted comments on the application, it would be great if you could send an email to planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.uk.  You need to give your name and address (which will be redacted when your representation is published online) plus the reference number 21/0181/OUTOPDC

Pocket Living application at Atlas Wharf, Old Oak Lane  

A less extreme example, but one with unwelcome building heights for residents of the Old Oak Conservation Area (island triangle/TITRA/railway cottages) is an application from developers Pocket Living.  This is for a scheme of 436 housing units at ‘Atlas Wharf’.  This is the site behind the Collective building and beside the Grand Union Canal, off Old Oak Lane.

The development involves three buildings ranging from 9 to 29 storeys. This application has a reference number 21/0214/FUMOPDC and a ‘publicity end date’ of 8th February.  OONF will be submitting an objection, on the basis that the OPDC Draft Local Plan is not yet adopted and this application is premature.

The site is not designated for housing in the 2012 Ealing Core Strategy.  The Draft OPDC Local Plan refers to building heights of generally, 6 to 8 storeys fronting the Grand Union Canal.   The CGI image below is from the Planning Statement submitted with the application.

OPDC may delay a decision on this application in the hope that their Draft Local Plan will be supported by the Inspector and can be adopted shortly.  But the examination of this draft plan is not yet over (see separate post).

Image 1 cropped

If you feel that 29 storeys is not the same outcome as 6-8 storeys, comments on this application can be sent to planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.uk with your name and address and reference 21/0214/FUMOPDC.   The development offers housing units aimed at ‘mid-income’ renters and has plus points (if the ground floor spaces can be ‘activated’ with the type of users that Pocket Living hopes to attract).

This area of Atlas Road/Channel Gate is where we had hoped to extend the boundary of the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum.  But our ‘designation application’ was refused by OPDC in November 2021.   Had we succeeded, we would have had a chance to negotiate with Pocket Living (and their co-applicants the current landowners) on a scheme with a lower density and more modest building heights.

Other parts of London are seeing good quality developments that the Forum would support.  The land values at Channel Gate/Atlas Road have in the past been at levels for industrial land, rather than residential so could have supported lower densities.

The gap between industrial and residential values will have narrowed since OPDC chose to allocate these sites (potentially) for 3,200 new homes.   But has the public gained any benefit from this change in planning designation?

These proposals are once again proving to be ‘developer led’ rather than ‘plan led’ as aspired to in the National Planning Policy Framework.  This is a repeat of the Scrubs Lane scenario in the east of the OPDC area.  So far this has not gone well from anyone’s perspective – developer or local community.  Developers overpaid for sites in the expectation of Cargiant’s ‘Old Oak Park’ scheme next door, for which plans were abandoned in 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *