High Court success in fight to save Ealing public land from QPR scheme

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The High Court this week granted leave for a Judicial Review of Ealing Council’s decision to allow QPR Football Club to redevelop Warren Farm School Sports Centre, in Southall. The scheme to use the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL – London’s Green Belt) for QPR’s new Training and Academy HQ would remove public access to the majority of the site. Marc Willers QC is acting on behalf of the Save Warren Farm campaigners.

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Mr Justice Ouseley agreed with Marc Willers QC, acting on behalf of Save Warren Farm campaigners [1], that it is arguable the Council failed to take into account the other harms to the MOL when considering the 'very special circumstances’ [2] necessary to justify the loss of open land for development.

"We were delighted that Mr Justice Ouseley agreed there is a case to answer as Ealing Council arguably had failed to apply the correct test when considering the harms to Metropolitan Open Land at Warren Farm,” said Richard Buxton, instructing solicitor, of Richard Buxton, specialists in environmental and public law. “This case is highly significant because we are increasingly seeing Councils allowing encroachment on publicly held land to benefit commercial enterprise.”

Alice Roberts of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) London [3] said:

“This is great news for the objectors who have pointed out these community sports fields are a public asset, 61 acres of green, open space in the midst of London’s suburbs, which  should continue to be available for public benefit.”

The latest stage in the four-year fight to save Warren Farm from development is being supported by a crowdfunding appeal launched earlier this month and has been covered in the local press.

Malcolm Weller, of the Save Warren Farm Campaign [2], said:

"We are so grateful to all those who are donating to save Warren Farm so the land can continue to be used for sporting activities by local people. We are relying on the continuing generosity of donors for the next big push to take our case to Judicial Review and protect our Metropolitan Open Land from this harmful and exclusive commercial development.”

The Judicial Review will be heard in the New Year, raising the possibility that the High Court could quash the planning permission in January.

This is what residents are fighting:

  • Ealing Council plans to lease 61 acres of publicly-owned community sports fields for 200 years at no rent to a privately owned company.
  • The Council has granted planning permission to QPR football club, owned by billionaires, to build a Training and Academy facility on the site for the benefit of their own shareholders.
  • Current plans increase the built footprint on this Metropolitan Open Land (London’s Green Belt) by over 300%, and wipe out a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
  • QPR would level the land with 180,000 cubic metres of landfill through a ‘muck away’ scheme. This amounts to 150 trucks per day thundering through narrow roads, to and from the site, five days a week, for eight months. QPR would make around £4 million from this scheme.

Marc Willers QC is Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers and leads Garden Court's Environmental and Planning Law Team. He is also a member of the Public Law team.

ENDS

NOTES

[1] The Save Warren Farm Campaign currently comprises 1,670 people from Ealing, West London and beyond who have campaigned, signed petitions and pledged money to fight to keep Warren Farm Sports Centre accessible, in its entirety, to all, in line with its designation within Council policy as Community Open Space and Metropolitan Open Land (London’s Green Belt).

[2] The Mayor of London has said that "the strongest protections should be given to London’s Metropolitan Open Land and inappropriate development should be refused, except in very special circumstances”. The resistance to development unless in ‘very special circumstances’ is also laid down in the National Planning Policy Framework (ch.9 paragraph 88) in relation to green belt.

[3] Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) London is a membership based campaigning charity with 2,700 members around London, working to save and enhance protected and other green spaces in London

For more information, please contact:

Save Warren Farm Press Office

Mobile: 07774 235 284

 

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