Friends of the Earth claims door being opened to building on open spaces
Grove Farm in Greenford will no longer be Metropolitan Open Land. Picture: Dudley Miles
January 19, 2023
Local environmental campaigners are warning that changes proposed in Ealing Council’s local plan could enable building taking place on the borough’s remaining Green Belt and other open spaces.
Ealing Friends of the Earth (FoE) says that the council is proposing to redesignate the seven existing Green Belt sites as well as downgrading some of its Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) sites.
Ealing's Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land Review claims that Green Belt designation in the borough serves no purpose in containing the outward expansion of urban sprawl.
It says: "The assessment of Ealing’s seven current Green Belt sites shows that none of the sites score well against Green Belt objectives / criteria. Consequently, it is recommended that the Green Belt designations are removed from all seven sites."
These sites are Yeading Brook, Shooting Grounds, and Down Barns, Lime Tree Park, Golf Course and Alec Reed Academy, Prior Fields and Lord Halsbury’s Playing Fields, Northala Fields, Rectory Park, Marnham Fields and Smith’s Farm.
They would all be redesignated as MOL sites which Ealing FoE says that the council already has a track record of encroaching on. Ealing's draft local plan has already identified a number of MOL areas as development sites, casting doubt on how much protection the former Green Belt sites will receive. The Twyford Abbey site is MOL but building has been approved there.
In addition, Belvue Park, Golf Range and green verge along Western Avenue, King George’s Field - Spikes Bridge Park, Blair Peach Primary School and Hayes Bridge Allotments would all lose existing protection.
The review, which was produced for the council as part of the development of the Local Plan, recommends: “The London Plan sets Ealing a challenging target of providing 21,570 dwellings over the period 2019/20 - 2028/29... Given these housing pressures, and the scarcity of land for development, it is important to consider all the possible ways of meeting housing need. This includes considering the possibility of Green Belt/MOL providing land for development to a limited extent.”
Ealing FoE is arguing that the review of Green Belt land is faulty because it quotes selectively from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPPF says, "The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence."
Ealing FoE says, "Most of the draft local plan is about encouraging development and population growth in Ealing. But we're concerned that means pressure to build on Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land. We need that land to provide forests and cool green spaces as the climate gets even hotter. Once we build on Green Belt we will never get it back."
A spokesperson for the council said, “The consultation on our draft new Local Plan runs until 8 February, and we want to hear what residents think about the plan and how it addresses the issues which matter to them. We will fully consider all of the feedback before we publish the next version of our new Local Plan. We are due to meet representatives from Ealing Friends of the Earth to discuss their views on the plan.”
To comment on Ealing's draft local plan go to the council website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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