Warren Farm

by Nigel Bakhai on 24 April, 2013

Please find below a copy of my speech to the April Planning committee meeting in relations to the QPR development at Warren Farm:-

Thank you Chair for allowing me to speak. Although this development is in Norwood Green ward, residents in Elthorne are also affected by this development.  As a sports fan, I want to see improved sporting facilities for the community and accept the need for regeneration of Warren Farm, but many of my residents have raised concerns with me about the proposals before you.

In particular, I want to question the height of the proposed development and its suitability on Metropolitan Open Land.  The London Plan Policy 7.17 states that “the strongest protection should be given to London’s Metropolitan Open Land and inappropriate development refused, except in very special circumstances, giving the same level of protection as in the Green Belt”.  3.1 of our UDP states that “any development in Major Open Areas should be of a small scale, and a height and design sympathetic to its setting in a Major Open Area. Even the officer’s report admits that the scale of the proposed main buildings are clearly not “small scale and therefore the quantum of development proposed is considered to represent inappropriate development in MOL”.

Nevertheless, apart from benefitting the sports provision in the borough, one of the reasons that the committee are given for recommending approval is the fact that other football clubs like Spurs, Arsenal, Derby County etc have all been granted permission by the Mayor or Secretary of State under the same “very special circumstances” and the new indoor hall at just under 16m is the minimum requirement to meet the FA standards.  I would like to ask the committee to consider if they think 16m is small scale and appropriate for MOL, and whether they think the council could do more to protect the openness of the area.

Indeed, I wanted to understand for myself whether those other clubs listed had mitigated their development in some way so I checked the Enfield Council website for the planning documents relating to the Bulls Cross training ground for Spurs and, their development was only 10.5m high for their indoor pitch. So assuming they are complying with the same FA standards, I question then why Ealing has not pushed the applicant to propose a much lower scale development in this case to reduce the impact on the MOL. The report also says that the impact on my residents is minimal because of the distance away, but what it doesn’t take into account is the fact that the homes in Hanwell are at a much lower level looking up at Warren Farm and so a 16m high structure will be clearly visible above them.

Next, I want to raise the issue of transport and accessibility to the site. The PTAL rating for the site is zero – poor. Transport officers recommended that additional pedestrian accesses need to be provided to make the site more accessible from all directions. Many of my residents have enjoyed access to Warren Farm for years  to walk their dogs, to watch or participate in sport. However, all access to the site is to be from Windmill Lane and they will be prevented from accessing a large part of the area due to the security arrangements for QPR. I have asked officers if they would consider an entrance in South Eastern corner of the site which will allow Hanwell residents to enter without walking the entire perimeter of the site and it is important that we maintain this access so residents in Hanwell can still benefit from as much access to the site as possible. As mentioned in the officer’s report, the pedestrian path around the site is narrow and not well maintained so although the planning officer does not deem it worthy of asking for a contribution from the application I welcome a commitment by officers that all the paths around Warren Farm will be upgraded as funds become available.

Finally I would like to raise an issue in relation to the consultation. According to the officer’s report 667 properties were consulted. As far as Elthorne is concerned, the consultation area included the businesses in Trumpers Way and the newly built properties on the Frendcastle development in Hanwell Locks, but ignored the rest of Olde Hanwell. Unfortunately, this consultation has been typical of the lack of engagement by the council with my residents over Warren Farm which has resulted in many people feeling as though they have not been consulted about these proposals. If the committee are minded to reject or defer this application to ask the developer to come back with more suitable proposals for its siting in MOL, I hope officers will look again at the way they draw up the consultation area to make sure my residents are included.

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