Ealing Council scraps green belt developments after local pressure

Image above: Save The Skylarks protestors campaign on Warren Farm in LB Ealing

Local and Opposition pressure push Ealing to scrap 41 proposed sites

Ealing residents, supported by the Opposition Liberal Democrat group on Ealing Council, have succeeded in persuading the Council to give up their policy of developing Metropolitan Open Land and Green Belt Land in the borough.

Ealing Council’s Local Plan, which outlines the planning framework for the next 15 years, was discussed by the Council on Wednesday 21 February.

During the meeting, it was revealed that all Green belt proposed changes and most of the Metropolitan Open Land changes have been cancelled, or substantially altered. This included a reversal of plans for a development site at Ealing Riding School.

Key changes between the last Council consultation and this one are that the original 118 sites put forward have now been reduced to 81 sites.  This means that 41 sites have been removed across the borough and four new sites have been added (two in Acton, one in Northolt and one in Southall).

Image above: Warren Farm 

Warren Farm to be designated as a nature reserve in significant U-turn

In a significant U-turn, Ealing Council told residents they will no longer build on rewilded Warren Farm, following a long standing battle with residents and campaigners, and will designate the land as a local nature reserve.

Campaigners warned that development on the rewilded 61-acre wildflower meadow would leave Ealing’s only Skylark population with nowhere to breed, which they say contradicts Ealing Council’s own Biodiversity Action Plan which confirms that Warren Farm is the only place in the borough suitable for Skylarks to nest.

In a statement, the Council said it is working with Imperial College on land next to Warren Farm to develop sports facility on it and revealed “approximately the 20-hectare site becoming a local nature reserve, while a new sports ground will be built on additional land next to it.”

Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaigner and Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS) trustee Katie Boyles said of the U-turn:

“We are delighted that Ealing Council has agreed to designate Warren Farm as a local nature reserve. Credit to the council for taking stock and reversing plans that would have been hugely environmentally damaging.”

Mark Eccleston, who describes himself as a ‘writer and film fan’ on X posted:

‘Hallelujah! The skylarks of Ealing are saved! Massive thanks to everyone who stood up for this wild green space… @ThatVetSean @Kaulofthewilduk @ZackPolanski @GreenJennyJones… and the nearly 26,000 people who signed the petition. Positive campaigning and hard facts won!’

Liberal Democrats say proposed new buildings risk “separating and alienating” residents

The Liberal Democrats say many residents continue to feel they are ignored in many planning discussions. They say Ealing Council have not set a proper height limit for buildings which could be built across the borough, and there is a lack of clarity on carbon offsetting especially in buildings which are tall buildings over six storeys high.

While the demand for housing in LB Ealing remains high, opponents to building highrise blocks say the Council’s emphasis is on building increasingly tall buildings in the wrong areas, such as Friary Park in Acton and Waitrose in West Ealing, which risks “separating and alienating residents”.

The Lib Dems cite “swathes” of stalled development sites along roadways, including the Uxbridge Road especially in West Ealing and a “lack of ambition” in Northolt, Greenford and Southall. They add that the level of truly affordable housing is set too low and whole generations of younger residents are actively blocked from engaging in Council housing provision.

They believe a minimum of 50% truly affordable housing is essential to engage residents.

Councillor Jon Ball, Liberal Democrat Opposition spokesperson for Planning said:

“The Liberal Democrats continue to work with residents and are pleased that Ealing Council have seen sense in Green belt changes although they still have a way to go regarding Warren Farm and considering the exclusion of younger generations from access to housing which is truly affordable.

“The Local Plan and supporting documents total 1,209 pages of impenetrable waffle, jargon and repetition. The Labour administration have failed to engage local people by failing to produce an accessible plan that residents can meaningfully engage with.”