|The Battle For Warren Farm Moves To High Court|
Judicial Review over Ealing Council's planning decision
Campaigners are taking their fight to 'save Warren Farm' to the High Court today (Thurs 30th Jan).
They are lodging papers at the High Court of Justice to review Ealing Council's decision to give land - rent free for 200 years - to QPR football club for their new Training and Academy HQ.
Samantha O'Connor, Rheian Davies of DH Law, the Campaign's solicitor and Carolyn Brown, Chair of Hanwell Community Forum - all resident in Hanwell and members of the Save Warren Farm Campaign.
It comes just a month after QPR announced they had been granted permission to develop the site which was welcomed by Council Leader, Julian Bell, who said at the time:
" Warren Farm is in dire need of redevelopment, so it is fantastic that QPR has committed to such a huge investment into the site. “Signing this deal is the next step towards bringing Warren Farm back into use and transforming it into a thriving hub of community activity and sport.
However it's alleged that the council's decision is unlawful on several grounds including the enclosure of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and there are also concerns about the impartiality of councillors handling both the decision to grant the rent-free lease and the planning permission.
Carolyn Brown, Chair of Hanwell Community Forum says:
'' Ealing plans to give away this valuable green space, currently dedicated in its entirety to community sport, for seven generations, In order to help justify this deal Ealing Council has valued this land at between £1.8-2.25M, the equivalent of a single, large house in central Ealing, and what we understand to be only approximately 6-7% of its true market value. And this is in return for an unsubstantiated figure they claim to be of around £8M which they have failed to break down clearly, and which even the developer’s senior management disputed in a public forum.”
Campaigners claim that the reduced community space would be inadequate to hold the large sports tournaments which have previously been held here.
The APNA Annual Primary Schools Football Tournament was held at Warren Farm on 28 June last year; 16 of Ealing’s primary schools entered 34 teams using eight pitches. The tournament was won in 2013 by St John’s Primary School – a school which has no green space on its site in West Ealing.
Organisers say they were told by Council Officers that they would not be able to hold the tournament at Warren Farm in future. Similarly organisers of the Tamil School Sports Association’s Summer Tournament of cricket, football and netball, held over several weekends last Summer have been told they will need to find a new venue.
Malcolm Weller, resident in Olde Hanwell and member of the Save Warren Farm Campaign says:
“What we actually need on this site is a 21st century sports pavilion with modern, well-maintained changing rooms, social and admin space, to service the whole of the sports field for the community. This was recently provided at Regent’s Park playing fields in central London for only £3.3M, in a sustainable design suitable for sensitive green space.''
Rheian Davies, a lawyer who practises from DH Law Ltd in Hanwell says:
“ I have been dismayed by the way Ealing Council have conducted themselves in this deal to dispose of Ealing’s biggest recreation ground. My firm is determined to bring the council to account for its actions before the court on behalf of local residents.”
John Croxen, Chair of
the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) London says; ''"Warren Farm is on Metropolitan Open Land which according to the London Plan has the same protection as Green Belt land. CPRE London is receiving increasing numbers of reports from across London about planning proposals on precious Green Belt and open land. It’s time to put a stop to this steady whittling away of protected land, once it is lost we won't get it back.''
Campaigners are hoping the Judge will review the legality of the process in which Ealing Council made the decision and find in their favour which could halt QPR's development plans.
30th January 2014