Lake Farm – The Fight goes on – November 2013
Regular visitors to the site will be aware that the branch has been helping with the campaign to save green belt land at Lake Farm in Hayes.
Hillingdon council have steamrollered through development of a new primary school on the site in spite of numerous brown field sites being available.
Yesterday, a march was organised by local MP John McDonnell from the town centre to Lake Farm to highlight this issue once again with UKIP Hillingdon members meeting other protesters by the band stand at 12pm (Above)
There was a slight delay as members of the Heathrow Transition Group made their way by bike to join everyone else before departure – They brought some colourful banners with them as can be seen in the pictures below with local Labour group leader Peter Curling.
A number of local councillors were in evidence, including Lynne Allen, Janet Gardiner, Phoday Jarjussey and June Nelson.
John McDonnell then led us off, with the three banners at the head of the parade – The smaller ‘We love Hayes’ one up front, with myself and Bryan Tomlinson carrying the third banner proclaiming ‘parks not profit’ .
This banner is a reference to the fact that the Council are selling off the land where the old swimming pool used to be to developers to build a Lidl supermarket – Interestingly enough, this land was ruled out at the council meeting back in the Spring as a site for the school as it is ‘contaminated’, a claim disputed by a former maintenance contractor at the pool. Surely nothing to do with the council being able to sell brown field but not green field sites for development?
With the MP leading the calls to ‘Save our park’ and ‘save Lake Farm’ via his megaphone, the march made it’s way towards the country park – It wasn’t long before myself and Bryan got our banner caught in an overhead obstruction, leading to a call of ‘save our trees’ from Mr McDonnell and a fair amount of laughter from the following procession!
Further mishaps avoided, we took up position on the green at the front of the fences erected by the building contractors and we were given an update as to the current position with regards to saving the land. (Left)
Construction work has already started, with fences erected around the perimeter of the works as part of the land is cleared.
The familiar Skylark statue now peeks above the fences and looks rather sad at the impending fate of the park. (below)
It was pointed out that a legal challenge to the work is still ongoing, but that the council have ignored it and pushed ahead with construction – The position re this is laid out below as explained on the day and also on the Save Lake Farm website
Campaigners and the Friends of Lake Farm are challenging the Council’s decision to build on Lake Farm Country Park because the council has failed to follow the proper procedures laid down in legislation when considering the impact of building on the country park.
The council is required in law to undertake a full impact assessment including an equalities impact assessment. The Council has breached this procedure by failing to undertake this assessment. Local labour councillors and the Friends of Lake Farm took legal advice from Irwin Mitchell solicitors and consider that they have the grounds to challenge the council in the courts. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors have been successful in the past in challenging Hillingdon Council for its failure to abide by procedure.
It was also brought up that the Council are now consulting about additional secondary school places to cope with demand – One of the fears that had been voiced at the meetings about Lake Farm is that if they are putting 650 children here in a Primary school, then what happens when they get to secondary school age? It is not a great leap of imagination to think that the council will come back and take more of the park to build on for this too, despite the brown field sites available.
Indeed, John McDonnell advised us that he had spoken to the developers on the EMI site in Hayes the previous week and they had been amenable to a school going in to their development. It begs the question as to why the Council didn’t think to put that in the planning requirement rather than go after the green belt?
With Nestles scheduled to close their plant in the near future with the Birmingham relocation, maybe the planning department should be looking to put the secondary school in the requirements for redevelopment of that site?
When the speeches finished, some of the protestors decided to remove the metal fencing surrounding the wooden fences that had been erected on the edge of the park.
A security guard peered over the top of the fences and shouted that he had called the Police because they were committing ‘criminal damage’ – I commented to Helen, John McDonnell’s assistant, that the real criminal damage was being committed behind the fences.
At this point, a young lady with a high vis bib with ‘legal observer’ on the back started handing out cards with details of what to do if arrested.
Three security guards then approached the officers, and one of them came over to talk to the group.
Hilariously, the Police had been told by the security team that the protesters had chainsaws with them!
This prompted some laughter, and John McDonnell quipped to Helen that she should pass the item to the officers!
With our point made, the banners were folded up and the crowd dispersed leaving the security guards to ponder how to put the metal fences back up again.
Another view of the day’s events (With superior photographs) can be viewed here
Lake Farm – You can get involved
If you feel strongly about preserving our local green spaces, please visit the following sites which give details of upcoming events surrounding the campaign
With the increasing demand for housing in Hillingdon driven by massive population growth, it was only natural that increased amenities would be needed in the way of school places and hospital capacity.
Hillingdon Council and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have already proven themselves to be inadequate on the latter issue, with the proposed closure of Accident and Emergency services at Ealing Hospital bound to drive increased traffic to Hillingdon. However, they seem to be ‘ahead of the game’ regarding school places, most notably with the proposed building of a new school on Green Belt land at Lake Farm Country Park in Hayes.
With many brown field sites available to build a new school in that part of the borough (The old swimming pool,anybody?), the decision to build on one of the last bits of greenery close to Hayes Town is a baffling one, and as such our Hillingdon branch of UKIP has been supporting local Labour MP John McDonnell (Left,during the February protest march) on this issue in opposing the development.
I have written about these issues before,most notably on January 25th this year in the post linked to below
UKIP policy is to direct new developments towards brown field sites and to annul the localism bill’s right to build on the green belt – We also support local referendums on such issues where the local community have the final say on major construction sites in their area.
Over 1000 people signed a petition objecting to the site being used which should give the planning department some idea of the depth of feeling on this.
Unfortunately, our council seem to have other priorities – Armed with further changes to planning regulations brought in by the Coalition Government earlier this year relaxing bars to building on green areas, they are pushing ahead with a short term strategy that will damage our environment for years to come.
What’s more, they are doing so by increasingly stealthy means – We already saw the Glenister Estate development railroaded through, where the decision was effectively rubber-stamped before the planning meeting I attended was convened. Now we have a situation with Lake Farm where local residents were reporting test boring being taken before the planning was submitted, followed by the planning application being submitted at a meeting where it was not listed (Although previously submitted) and where documents relevant to the application were not available according to John McDonnell.
The upshot is that we now have until just 8th January for residents to write in to Hillingdon council and have their say on this development,an apparent case of the authorities trying to sneak things through quickly over the festive period.
Below is a template that John McDonnell has devised on his website to give you an idea of the type of letter that needs to be sent in to the council to show your objection to the Lake Farm development –
Please ensure that you have the planning application reference number prominently displayed on your letter –
Dear Jean Palmer,
Planning Application reference number 68911/APP/2012/2983.
I am writing to object to the Council’s planning application to build a school on Lake Farm Country Park/Botwell Common.
Lake Farm/Botwell Common is an immensely important green belt, public, open space located in this densely populated urban area.
This green belt land is critically important to local residents who use it for recreation purposes and enjoy its bird-life, biodiversity and natural environment.
The proposal to develop this site has caused consternation and uproar in the local community that such a much valued community asset is under threat.
Developing this site will deprive local residents of a local park that we have all enjoyed for many years. It will threaten the diverse wildlife, bird-life and fauna of the area and will result in a considerable loss of amenity.
Building a school on this site will increase traffic on the already congested local roads, where there is an existing proven risk of road accidents.
In addition it will increase pollution in an area which suffers from high levels of air pollution.
There is no justification for building on a green belt site when other sites are available in the area.
I do not believe that the council has undertaken a proper search and assessment of sites as alternatives to building on a green belt site. This is evidenced by the fact that whilst it was supposedly looking to identify a site for a new school in the area, the council sold off for housing one of the most suitable sites near to Lake Farm/Botwell Common,i.e. the former swimming pool site.
I also do not believe that the council has justified the need for a new school on this site given the current expansion of a number of existing schools within the area and the plans now in process for the new primary schools at Guru Nanak Sikh School, Rosedale College, and Hewens College. The council has failed to take account fully not only these expansions and new school plans but also the uptake of places at schools that have alreday expanded within the borough.
For all these reasons I strongly object to this planning application and urge that the Planning Committee reject this application and preserve our green belt country park.
With the new government planning rules, this is a particularly vital fight that has to be won. This is the first time that Hillingdon Council will be using these rules to attempt to streamroll through development on a green belt site in our borough – If successful, they will be back for other sites such as Hayes Park (Above) followed by further grabs in both the North and South of Hillingdon.
I would not normally stand shoulder to shoulder with John McDonnell or the Labour Party (who I hold responsible for many of our country’s ills), but there are certain issues that are more important than party politics and the preservation of our green spaces for our children and grandchildren is one of them. Make your contribution by sending your letter of protest to –
Director of Planning
Uxbridge UB8 1UW
For John McDonnell’s article on the situation, link below