AN OVERHAUL of Ealing Town Centre Conservation Area was approved by Ealing Council on Wednesday, to the horror of conservationists in the town.

The planning committee voted eight against five to allow developers Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle to build new shops, a music venue and 188 flats at 9-42 The Broadway.

The Victorian Society, Historic England and Save Ealing Centre had all attacked the proposed modernisation as being unsuitable for the area of Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

More than 1,800 people had signed a petition against the central area being demolished.

James Hughes, Victorian Society’s senior conservation adviser, said: “What makes it all so regrettable is that ultimately it is not necessary. Ealing does not need this. It could have something so much better.

“It deserves something so much better.”

The decision was welcomed by Ealing Council leader Julian Bell, who said: “This scheme will transform Ealing town centre, creating a 21st century high street with new shops and restaurants, as well as enhancing Ealing’s cultural offer.

“The new scheme will replace the rundown buildings with a significant number of new homes and will transform the space opposite one of our five new Crossrail stations."

Mr Hughes said he did not believe the development was the only way to deliver ‘substantial public benefit’.

“Those benefits could be delivered in less harmful ways,” he said.

He remained hopeful it would not go ahead.

A Historic England spokesman said he had concerns national planning policy may not have been properly followed and they were considering their next steps.

A Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle spokesman said: “We are pleased with Ealing Council’s decision to back our major investment in Ealing Broadway and this will now be referred to the Mayor of London.

"We are grateful for this vote of confidence as we are committed to revitalising Ealing town centre and securing its long term status.”