Fate of Warren Farm Set to Be Decided Next Week

Councillors to consider proposals for sports facilities within nature reserve

Council says that over half the site will become a nature reserve
Council says that over half the site will become a nature reserve


Young Naturalists Guide Councillors Around Warren Farm

Local Plan 'Could Mean the End' for Borough's Skylarks

Warren Farm Campaigners Say Consultation Backs Total Re-wilding

Public Meeting Being Held to Decide Future of Warren Farm

Concern Over Cricket Pitch Proposal for Warren Farm

Four Local Meadows Designated as Nature Reserves

Southall FC Hoping To Make Warren Farm Its Home

Call for All of Warren Farm To Be Made Nature Reserve

Boost for Warren Farm Nature Reserve Campaign

Mayor Fails To Endorse Warren Farm Nature Reserve Plan

10,000 Signature Warren Farm Petition Presented To City Hall

Could Skylarks Save Warren Farm ?

Sign up for our weekly Ealing newsletter

Comment on this story on the

January 19, 2023

The next meeting of Ealing Council’s cabinet on 25 January will decide the future of Warren Farm.

Councillors will be asked to consider giving approval to the building of new sports facility along with the designation of much of the surrounding area as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) but local campaigners have described the proposals as ‘environmentally reckless’.

The plan would mark the return to sports provision at the site after an absence of over a decade. It the green light is given, the council will look for a partner to develop the facility with a number of configurations being considered including the provision of cricket, football and all weather pitches.

Warren Farm Sports Ground previously provided 16 adult football pitches, 6 cricket pitches, 8 netball courts, and softball provision, as well as cricket nets and athletics facilities. These facilities were supported by changing facilities spread across 5 separate buildings

The council says that Ealing's Sports Facility Strategy, adopted in July 2022, clearly demonstrated a need for additional cricket and football pitches in the area particularly in Hanwell and Southall. Should the plans be approved by cabinet, the council will launch a study for the provision of sports pitches on the remainder of the site not included in the boundaries of the proposed nature reserve. The council says it will make further announcements on its full strategy for delivering sports facilities following completion of the study.

The final respective boundaries of the proposed LNR and sports facilities will be confirmed in the future following consultation with residents and local groups.

The intention is to apply to Natural England for nature reserve status to be granted to the area not needed for the sports facility.

The nature reserve is set to be created as part of an expanded site which the council has negotiated on a 99 year management lease with Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which both own land adjoining Warren Farm. Combined, these sites will form an area larger than that taken up by the sports facilities and the council says they will become part of London’s largest rewilding project.

Local environmental groups remain insistent that the only way to protect biodiversity at the site is for a much larger part if not the whole area to be converted into an LNR. The council plans to designate five of Hanwell’s Meadows as Local Nature Reserve, as put forward in the Brent River & Canal Society’s vision to create and protect a Wildlife Corridor, but the council’s proposal only includes half of rewilded Warren Farm. This, say the campaigners, would lead to a significant loss of biodiversity and a reduction in publicly accessible green open space.

One of the proposed configurations for sports facilities at the site
One of the proposed configurations for sports facilities at the site

They warn that developing the rewilded wildflower meadow would leave Ealing’s only Skylark population with nowhere to breed. As the council’s own Biodiversity Action Plan points out, Warren Farm is the only place in the borough suitable for Skylarks to nest.

Council leader Peter Mason responded to critics of the proposals on social media by saying, “I have to balance the needs of skylarks with children in Southall and Hanwell that are currently underserved with space for sports and play. “

He added, “This is a good compromise, that brings in Imperial’s land for rewilding too.”

Katie Boyles, Trustee of the Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS) and Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign organiser, said, “While we welcome the council’s plan for a Local Nature Reserve in the Brent River Park, excluding half of Warren Farm is like removing the jewel from the crown. As the council itself acknowledges, nowhere else in the borough has the wide open space for skylarks to nest safely on the ground and the abundance of plant & insect species they need to feed their chicks. That’s why they don’t exist anywhere else in the borough. Our skylarks are a threatened species facing UK and local extinction. This proposal would certainly make them extinct in Ealing.

“It is frankly speaking, environmentally reckless. Where is the accountability for the council to follow their own Biodiversity Action Plan? To adhere to their Public Consultation results in which the overwhelming majority of respondents want Warren Farm Nature Reserve preserved for it’s rare and precious wildlife? The site has had 14 years to rewild and yet sadly, despite our conversations with the council to date, the scientific facts of the matter and our community’s wishes are being at best watered down and at worst, ignored. Warren Farm Nature Reserve is at risk of becoming the biggest de-wilding project in West London. We strongly encourage Ealing Council to have an urgent rethink, there is still time to do the right thing.”

Campaigners also point out that developing sport facilities on Warren Farm would be at odds with Ealing Council’s own Climate and Ecological Strategy and would be counter-productive given the current Climate Emergency and the council’s biodiversity commitments.

BRCS Trustee and Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign officer, Steven Toft commented, “We deduced, from comments by the council leader and deputy leader in August last year, that the proposal would look something like this and now our fears have been confirmed.

“Warren Farm’s sheer size and interconnectedness are key to its ecological value, so taking a chunk out of it destroys much of the value of the rest. It will mean a significant loss of biodiversity for Ealing. Developing half of Warren Farm will do more ecological damage than putting a development anywhere else in the borough.

“The council talks about its biodiversity and re-wilding ambitions. Starting the new Local Plan with biodiversity loss and de-wilding seems an odd way of going about it.”

The Brent River & Canal Society and the Warren Farm Nature Reserve group say they will continue to campaign for Local Nature Reserve designation for the entire site and surrounding meadows. They are urging their supporters to use the Local Plan consultation process to oppose the development of a sports facility on Warren Farm. Residents have until 8 February to make comments on the Local Plan. You can respond by email at localplan@ealing.gov.uk.

If approval is given at the Cabinet meeting, the council will start the process of finding a partner to develop the site. It hopes to achieve this before this autumn at which point more detail plans for the sports facility will be drawn up.

The Warren Farm Nature Reserve petition also remains open. .

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact info@neighbournet.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least two articles a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.


Bookmark and Share