2024 update on Imperial’s plans for One Portal Way

Since our last post on this website the proposals from Imperial College for a development of seven buildings at One Portal Way North Acton have been granted in principle planning consent.

This decision was taken by the OPDC Planning Committee on 12th October 2023.  The decision of the OPDC Planning Committee remains subject to a London Mayor decision at ‘Stage 2′ (given the heights and sacle of the scheme).  Stage 1 approval was granted by the Mayor on the advice of GLA planning officers back in February 2022.

The details of the application are as below:

Full planning permission is sought for a ground plus 55 storey building (227.75m AOD) comprising of 461 residential units (Class C3) and 75 sq.m of flexible commercial/community/town centre uses (Classes E/F) and ground plus 18 storey building (100.175m AOD) providing 384 co-living units (Sui Generis) OR 384 student accommodation units (Sui Generis), 637 sq.m of co-working space (Class E) and 128 sq.m of flexible commercial/community/town centre uses (Classes E/F/Sui Generis), along with basement, associated cycle and car parking, creation of publicly accessible landscaped open space and associated highway works and public realm improvements.

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum submitted six objections in all, over the long period when OPDC planning officers were considering the application.  The officer report to the OPDC Planning Committee and be downloaded at this link.  An ‘addendum report’ responding to our final representations is at this link.

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum has continued to question with the Office of Students whether Imperial College has the legal powers under its Statutes to undertake a purely commercial development project of this scale and estimated cost.  The OfS is the regulatory body for UK universities.  We are awaiting an OfS response to a second ‘notification’ that follows up that which we submitted in January 2023.

Update on Imperial’s planning application March 2022

Imperial’s application remains under assessment by the OPDC.  It is not clear whether a decision will be made this side of the May 2022 local elections.

The GLA has submitted to OPDC a set of  ‘Stage 1′ comments GLA report Feb 2022 which are generally supportive of the proposals in terms of land use and building heights.  But with concerns over Fire Safety.  The issue of very tall buildings with a single escape staircase has become a big issue in London in recent months.

After Grenfell, the idea that occupants will be willing to observe a ‘stay put’ policy as part of an evacuation procedure, while the single staircase is used as a ‘firefighters stair’ for firemen coming up the building, has been widely questioned.

LB Hammersmith & Fulham, as a neighbouring boriigh, as also submitted an objection LBHF obj One Portal Way on the impact of building heights and the harm that will be caused at viewing points such as Wormwood Scrubs and Kensal Cemetery (on North Kensington).

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum has submitted a One Portal Way Third objection from OONF, taking account of what LB Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing Council, and GLA officers are saying about the proposals.

So there are hopes that this application will be withdrawn for further work, or even refused by OPDC Planning Committee.  In the meantime further objections would be welcomed by local residents in the surrounding area.  See at  http://imperialfolly.org.uk/?page_id=252 on how to send in an objection.

Meanwhile Imperial College has declined to enter into any futher correspondence with OONF on why a university shoud be be pursuing a major speculative commercial development of this kind, and whether the College’s Endowment Fund has the legal capacity and powers to do so.  See the page on this website at  http://imperialfolly.org.uk/?page_id=25  for more background



Imperial College’s planning application for One Portal Way, North Acton


After a pause since June 2022, Imperial College has submitted revised plans and supporting documents for its major development of 7 new buildings at Portal Way in North Acton. The site remains occupied by Carphone Warehouse, due to relocate in 2024.

The ‘North Acton Cluster’ is a set of tall buildings currently dominated by City & Dockland’s One West Point, a residential tower of 55 storeys near and visible for miles on the A40 entering London.

The site at One Portal Way lies within the area for which the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has been the planning authority since 2015.

Planning application 21/0181/OUTOPDC was originally submitted and published for consultation in November 2021.  Revised drawings were added in June 2022, and then all went quiet again.  Local residents began to hope that Imperial were having second thoughts about a property venture of this scale at a time when borrowing costs rose sharply under the brief Truss government.

The application submitted is ‘hybrid’.  Full planning permission is sought for the first phase, and outline permission for the remaining five buildings in the blue part of the map below. The first phase includes a 56 storey tower and an 18 storey mixed use building.

Documents are available on the OPDC website.  The drawings, reports, and those objections published to date can be found on the OPDC online planning register


The CGI image below was prepared by Imperial’s architects Pilbrow and Partners and forms part of the application documents.  It shows what the ‘North Acton cluster’ will look like assuming that Imperial’s proposals receive planning permission, and that other already consented schemes are built (the main remaining one of these being the development at 4 Portal way, with two linked towers to the left of this image).

PP CGI,  Objections to Imperial’s proposals have been submitted from many quarters:

  • Residents and amenity groups in Ealing who have been campaigning against the Council’s overdevelopment of a series of sites in the Borough.  These groups inlcude the Ealing Civic Society, Ealing Matters, and Stop the Towers.
  • The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, a forum designated by OPDC in 2018 and which made repeated representations on all stages of the OPDC Draft Local Plan (finally adopted in June 2022).
  • Individual local residents living in North Acton and the wider area.  The North Acton cluster can be seen on the skyline from miles away.

One of the main reasons for delay by OPDC in deciding the application has been the new requirements from DLUHC and from the Mayor of London on including second staircases as a means of escape in tall buildings.   While new national Building Regulations have yet to come into force, the Mayor announced in March 2023 that buildings above 30m with only a single stair would not be considered at ‘Stage 2′ of the GLA call-in process.

Imperial’s architects have revised their designs to include a second staircase in proposed buildings A, C and E (those over 50 storeys).  But not as yet in others over 30m in height.  .

OPDC circulated on 19th April 2023 to previous objectors a letter with the following information on the changes to the original application:. :

The amendments include the following:
• Amendment to description of development (as quoted above) in respect of Building F, such that the use of this building is either co-living accommodation or student accommodation
• Increase to external wall depth and introduction of a second stair to Buildings A, C and E
• Associated minor increase in width and minor adjustment to siting of Buildings A, C and E
• Amendments to floor plans and elevations of Building A
• Revision to siting of vehicle servicing bay adjacent to Building A
• Provision of one car club and one accessible parking space on Portal Way
• Minor amendments to the landscaping and open space quantum
• Amendment to the proportion of the basement allocation to Phase 1 and Phase 2
• Minor adjustment to planning application site boundary

The planning application including the amended and supplementary documents is available to view by searching for the application number on the OPDC Planning Register. From the OPDC homepage (www.london.gov.uk/opdc) please follow the links to ‘Planning in the OPDC area’ – ‘Planning Applications’ – ‘OPDC Planning Register’.

Alternatively, the documents are available to view Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm by appointment only at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, Brent Civic Centre, 32 Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ.
If you have any comments on this proposal you can submit them by 15 May 2023:
• via email to planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.uk
• via the website at https://planning.agileapplications.co.uk/opdc
• or write to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation at c/o Brent Civic Centre, 32 Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ.

Objections to the planning application can be sent by email to planningapplications@opdc.london.gov.ukYou will need to give your name and address (which will be redacted when published on the planning register).  Also please include the application reference 21/0181/OUTOPDC.  

The Oak Oak Neighbourhood Forum recognises that Imperial College is a renowned global university doing pioneering work on medical sciences and on climate change and environmental sciences.  Our page at Imperial College questions why the college should be using its Endowment to pursue a development that includes towers of over 50 storeys – a building typology known for high levels of embedded carbon and energy use as compared with lower buildings.

It is for this reason, as well as the permanent and damaging impact on West London’s skyline that we feel the College should withdraw the present application and rethink its plans.

This website was originally set up in 2012 to campaign against the 35 storey tower built by Imperial as part of its White City campus in Wood Lane, Hammersmith.  The site has been re-purposed to inform West London residents about the proposals for One Portal Way, and is published and maintained by the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum and St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhourhood Forum