Ealing Residents in New Bid to Protect Warren Farm
By registering site of QPR's proposed training ground as "asset of community value"
Campaigners in Ealing hoping to protect Warren Farm from development by Queens Park Rangers FC have applied to register it as an 'Asset of Community Value' under the Localism Act.
To qualify, the land must be proved to ‘further the social wellbeing and social interests of the community, including cultural, sporting or recreational interests’, currently or in the recent past.
Until September 2013, the sports pitches, located between Norwood Green and Hanwell in the south of the Borough, were maintained by Ealing Council and used by schools and local clubs.
The land, is designated as both Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and Community Open Space
QPR applied to build an Academy and Training facility on the site and despite much opposition and legal wranglings, Ealing Council has agreed to lease out the land to the football club.
In January 2015, the council determined that only one third of Warren Farm, could be registered as an Asset of Community Value - claiming the full 61 acres did not qualify because the space given to QPR would no longer 'further the social wellbeing or social interests of the community'.
Save Warren Farm campaigners disagree and are challenging this decision.
Malcolm Weller, who led the submission, says: " Both QPR and Ealing have always claimed that the community would have use of the all-weather pitch and indoor sports hall when QPR did not need it. Both of these facilities, along with the majority of the community and disabled parking, fall within the ‘QPR’ area of the site and should also be included in the Asset registration.
" Secondly, in the revised planning application, the small community pavilion with changing facilities is located, not adjacent to the community pitches as in the original plans, but attached to the indoor sports hall, and so would also be in the ‘QPR’ space. This should also be protected as an Asset of Community Value."
Campaigners say Warren Farm is to be granted a 200 year lease at what they describe as a 'peppercorn rent'.
Rheian Davies, the campaign’s solicitor and legal advisor says: ''The 200 year lease applies to the whole of Warren Farm including the third that has already been classified as an asset of community value. There is no reason why the whole of Warren Farm cannot be classified as such.
''The point of the Act is that, if the land is registered as an Asset and it becomes available, then the community would have the right to bid to stop the land being lost to community use.''
Under the terms of the lease, QPR would be allowed to mortgage all 61 acres of the land without further permission from Ealing Council or consultation with the public.
There are fears that if it does not become secured as an Asset of Community Value, it could be sub-let or the lease sold on. The land could then become subdivided, and open to further development.
Ms Davies says: ''We believe that the splitting of Warren Farm in terms of allowing only part of the site to be designated as an asset of community value is artificial and against the whole purpose of the Act which is to save assets of community value for the community.''
The submission has been handed in to Ealing Council - who will rule whether it falls within the Localism Act, it could take several months before a decision is made.
August 3, 2015