Call for All of Warren Farm To Be Made Nature Reserve

Campaigners oppose council's desire to reintroduce sports facilities

Cllr Peter Mason outside the dilapidated changing rooms
Cllr Peter Mason outside the dilapidated changing rooms. Picture: YouTube


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The Warren Farm Nature Reserve group is urging people to reject the idea that sports provision should be reintroduced to the site.

The council has started a consultation on the issue and the leader Peter Mason has appeared in a video in which he commits to a compromise solution in which the council would support the site becoming a Local Nature Reserve whilst retaining part of the site for sports facilities. He is asking people to give their views on the use of the site including what kind of sports provision they would like to see. The consultation describes the site as the Warren Farm Sports Ground.

Previously, the council had entered a deal with QPR Football Club in which a community sports facility would be provided in return for the club being allowed to develop the site as a training facility. This proposal was withdrawn following determined opposition from local residents.

Campaigners believe that Local Nature Reserve status would preserve the meadows for future generations and ensure the protection of its rare and endangered species such as the Skylark, a red-listed bird facing UK extinction but they are unwilling to accept that this would be possible with the proposed sports facilities at the same location.

Cllr Peter Mason, visited Warren Farm earlier this month in advance of the consultation. He said in the video, “Back in May 2021, I met with local people from the Warren Farm Nature Reserve Campaign, and the Brent River & Canal Society about finding a compromise between delivering sports facilities for residents and protecting Warren Farm’s nature, biodiversity and its important role as a green space for local people.

“Warren Farm is Ealing’s largest outdoor sports ground but it’s been out of use for more than 10 years, and the changing rooms and the pavilions, as you can see behind me, are dilapidated.

“But during the lockdown periods of the last two years, Warren Farm has become a really important place for people in Southall and Hanwell as somewhere to walk, jog, meet up and nature has taken the opportunity to rewild the meadows here.

“Today we are confirming that our long-term ambition for Warren Farm is to get the best of both. We want to develop plans for this space for people both to enjoy nature and preserve its wild character, and provide sports facilities for local people.”


He points out that the site has multiple owners including the council, Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who jointly own the equestrian land to the East, as well as the Earl of Jersey.

He says that Imperial College is supportive of the idea of a nature reserve and the council is engaging with the other landowners on the issue.

The Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign group responded, “We are delighted that the council has stated its ambition to create a Local Nature Reserve at Warren Farm and to continue its incredible rewilding. This is a further step in the right direction.

“We understand the council’s need to balance different interests when considering the future of Warren Farm. But things have changed a lot in the 12 years since the site was last used for formal sports - or indeed since Warren Farm was an actual farm! We are in a Climate Emergency and we are witnessing biodiversity loss in the UK at an alarming rate. The government now requires councils to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain which we do not believe will be possible if any of Warren Farm’s species-rich habitats are allocated to formal sports usage, whether that be pitches or buildings.

“In our discussions with Ealing Council our stance is clear. We want Warren Farm to be given Local Nature Reserve designation in its entirety. This means we want the site to be protected for nature, wildlife, our ground nesting Skylarks, all of the common, rare and vulnerable plants we have recorded here (some of which are red-listed and facing local and national extinction) and for open public access for the enjoyment of the local community irrespective of age, background or ability.”

View of Warren Farm over the former sports facilities
View of Warren Farm over the former sports facilities. Picture: YouTube

Katie Boyles, Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign organiser and Brent River & Canal Society Trustee commented, “There is already first-class sports provision in and around Southall with superb new facilities at Spikes Bridge and at Rectory Park in Northolt. Extensive work has been completed recently to provide amazing sports grounds at Gunnersbury Park and at Wyke Green, just down the road from Warren Farm. Nearby, Norwood Hall Playing Fields is one of several community sites identified as having additional available pitch capacity. What Ealing does not need is a new stadium, floodlighting, astro-turf, car parking or closely mown pitches at Warren Farm. We do want to see local people able to take healthy outdoor exercise and using the network of footpaths at Warren Farm where they can enjoy the song of Skylarks, the sight of our colourful meadows and the rare and threatened species found here.”

The proposal to designate Warren Farm as a Local Nature Reserve was published by the Brent River & Canal Society in October 2020. The campaign was launched in January 2021 and its petition now has over 11,000 signatures.

You can respond to the consultation on Warren Farm online.

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March 31, 2022

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