|By PR Newswire||
|January 30, 2014 03:01 AM EST||
LONDON, January 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Ealing residents today lodged papers in the High Court of Justice to Judicially Review Ealing Council's decision to sign over 61 acres of London's Green Belt, rent free for 200 years, to QPR football club for their new Training and Academy HQ. Campaigners allege that the decision is unlawful on several grounds including the enclosure of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and concerns about the impartiality of councillors handling both the decision to grant the rent-free lease and the planning permission.
The 'Save Warren Farm' campaigners are trying to preserve the land in Brent River Park which has been used as playing fields for the Borough's schools and local sports clubs for over 50 years.
"To justify giving away this valuable green space, Ealing Council has valued the land at between £1.8-2.25M, equivalent to a single, large house in central Ealing, and only what we understand to be 6-7% of its true market value," says Carolyn Brown, Chair of Hanwell Community Forum.
Plans approved by Ealing's Planning Committee show that two thirds of the land would be dedicated to the privately-owned QPR Training and Academy business, with the remaining third supporting a smaller number of overlapping football pitches and cricket wickets for community sport, and serviced by a small sports pavilion. The whole of the 61 acre site would be secured behind 8 foot high, opaque fencing, with public access to the Training and Academy areas prohibited, and access to the community areas controlled by QPR.
"We oppose significant development on Metropolitan Open Land", asserts Robert Gurd, Chair of Ealing Civic Society. "Instead of being sensitively designed to fit in with its surroundings the proposed buildings would jar like a very bulky warehouse in the countryside," he continues.
John Croxen, Chair of CPRE London* states that "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 claim that the small amount of Warren Farm Playing Fields left for community use would be inadequate for the large sports tournaments held there by local schools, some with no green space of their own.
They point out that a 21st century sports pavilion with modern, well-maintained changing rooms, social and admin space 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 such as Warren Farm.
"If promoted and managed properly, income from renting pitches and facilities at Warren Farm would cover the cost of maintenance of the site, and this publicly owned land would remain open to the public," says Malcolm Weller of the Save Warren Farm Campaign.
Notes to the Editor
- Judicial Review is a form of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. It is a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made. It is not concerned with merits of the final decision but the lawfulness of the process.
In this case, a Judicial Review allows people with a sufficient interest in the Council's decisions (Ealing's Council Tax payers) to ask a judge to review the lawfulness of this disposal on several grounds including conflicts of interests, failing to get permission from the Secretary of State for disposal of the land and inappropriate development of protected MOL.
- Hanwell Community Forum is an alliance of residents' associations, businesses associations, environmental organisations, other interest groups and individuals who live and work in Hanwell, in the London Borough of Ealing.
- The petition can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-warren-farm-ealing-as-genuine-undeveloped-metro.html
- Donations to the Judicial Review fund can be made online at http://www.savewarrenfarm.com
Photocall and interviews available with Campaign members and their legal team at 10.00am, Thursday 30 January, on steps of Royal Courts of Justice, Strand WC1A 2LL. Photographs will also available on website at http://www.savewarrenfarm.com/#/press-office/4582345806