The following article was written by James Gates and appeared in this week’s’Ealing & Acton’Gazette:
‘Campaigners are taking Ealing Council to court over allegations it has acted unlawfully over the Warren Farm sports site. Papers were lodged at the High Court yesterday asking for a judicial review into the council’s decision to sign over 61 acres of green belt land rent-free for 200 years to Queen’s Park Rangers.
The club is working with the council to provide a multi-million pound training ground and football academy headquarters. Part of the agreement is to provide facilities for community sporting events and activities.
But campaigners under the ‘Save Warren Farm’ banner allege that the decision is unlawful on several grounds. Carolyn Brown, head of Southall Community Forum, said: “Ealing plans to give away this valuable green space, currently dedicated in its entirety to community sport, for seven generations.”
“This is a very bad deal for the community and for Ealing’s council tax payers. Not only are we losing 61 acres of freely accessible open green space used for school and adult sports, and for informal leisure, but we are losing it for 200 years, and for a tiny fraction of its true value.”
Plans approved by Ealing’s planning committee in April last year show that two thirds of the land would be dedicated to the privately-owned QPR Training & Academy business, with the remaining third of the land supporting a smaller number of overlapping football pitches and cricket wickets for community sport, serviced by a small sports pavilion.
Campaigners pointed out QPR’s development would comprise a two-storey training centre building, a three-storey operations building and an indoor sports hall. There would be two other ancillary buildings, including an energy centre, the emissions stacks on which would also be the equivalent of five to six-storeys high.
Robert Gurd, chairman of Ealing Civic Society said: “Instead of being sensitively designed to fit in with its surroundings the proposed buildings would jar like a very bulky warehouse in the countryside.”
Rheian Davies, a public law lawyer who practises at DH Law in Hanwell said: “As a local lawyer and local resident I have been dismayed by the way Ealing Council have conducted themselves in this deal to dispose of Ealing’s biggest recreation ground. My firm is determined to bring the council to account for its actions before the court on behalf of local residents.”
A spokesperson for Ealing Council said: “The council has no choice but to defend any legal action taken, but is confident that the planning decision was sound and that the development will secure long-term investment in high-quality community sporting facilities that will benefit generations of Ealing residents – and at no cost to the tax payer.”
“The development is supported by Sport England and other sport governing bodies, as well as many residents in Norwood Green.”