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 ( 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
• via the website at
• 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 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

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