A SLIMLINE 24-storey tower is the centrepiece of new plans which could dramatically change the centre of Ealing.

Developers Glenkerrin started a public exhibition to showcase new designs for the Arcadia Shopping Centre in the heart of the town this afternoon.

Original plans for the area, which featured around 700 flats and a 40-storey tower known as The Leaf, were slammed by residents and public bodies like English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).

The number of residential units has been dropped to around 580, and a transport interchange at the side of Haven Green has been introduced.

Sean O'Gorman, a director of the Irish firm, said: “The plans have been received quite well by the visitors so far.

“We have been working very hard over the past few months and have gone back almost to first principles in addressing the principle concerns of the statutory stakeholders.

“We now have a tall building which is less than 50 per cent of the original one, and the quantum of development has reduced by approximately 20 per cent.

“With the reduction of the tall building we aim to open up the centre of the site a little bit more.”

Other features of the proposals, which are still in the design stage, include a large new public square called Ealing Place, and a reduction in height of the blocks fronting onto Haven Green to nine stories.

The developer also claims to have improved access through the site, light for flats in the buildings and views through it.

Mr O'Gorman said: “There will also be room for around 40 new shops, including a 30,000 square foot anchor store.

“In terms of the transport interchange, we will not be reducing the size of the public space as we will be taking the road out of the middle of Haven Green.

“This will mean better transport links with rail and bus, and a joined-up green.”

However, he denied The Leaf had been overambitious, but said the new tower would provide a “regional landmark as opposed to a district landmark”.

Mr O'Gorman also said the reduced residential element would stretch the financial options for the site, and that would make the company “less generous than we would have been” with the section 106 payout.

Finalised plans will not be submitted to the council until September at the earliest, which is when the fate of the Dickens Yard development is expected to be decided.

He continued: “We will consider positive ideas from people about the plans, and what they have to understand is that there is a window of opportunity here for the people of Ealing to come forward and work with us.

“We are investing £500m here, and there is another developer prepared to put in the same amount, so that's around £1bn of investment into Ealing in these challenging economic times.”

However, Tony Miller, the chairman of the local Lib Dem party, was unconvinced by the display.

He said: “The transport interchange is not what I think we need, and I think we should be looking at something more like the one in Hammersmith.

“With Crossrail coming we have a real opportunity to attract people to Ealing, but no-one seems to have come up with a plan to keep them here.

“We are also looking at around 600 flats still, and there is still no say on where they will go to school, get medical treatment, which were big problems with the initial plans.” The exhibition is running in Christ the Saviour Church Parish Hall, Uxbridge Road, until 8pm this evening and between 11am and 4pm on Saturday.