(Photo @paul_Clarke Photography 2019)
Building work for the controversial £30m QPR training ground at Warren Farm, which residents had been informed was to start in May, has been delayed. However, as Green Party member, Darren Moore reports, this 'hiccup' has resulted in a remarkable natural development taking place there and he urges everyone to go and see it.
There’s an exciting rewilding experiment taking place at the beleaguered Warren Farm site in Hanwell. It’s been 5 years since the Council enthusiastically handed over 61 acres of prime Metropolitan Land (Green Belt) to QPR Football Club for free.
( Photo: Nigel Bewley)
Obviously, from the start back in 2012, there have been massive obstacles for QPR to obtain the necessary planning permission to build several 3 story buildings, a private swimming pool and 600 car parking spaces on this once publicly owned green space.
Strangely not only has Ealing Council enthusiastically helped the billion-pound football club to gain permission it has also lobbied the Mayor of London to allow the development to take place.
In a nutshell, the development of this valued green space violated the terms of Metropolitan Open Land, contravened the Mayor’s London Plan, and was condemned by local and national environmental groups. These objections were swept aside with a combination of Ealing Council’s assistance and the expensive legal firm that QPR employed and unfortunately the poor people of Ealing didn’t stand a chance.
However, thanks to a combination of these legal objections, and financial pressures at QPR Football Club, construction on the site has yet to start and something amazing has happened.
Due to the dilapidated state of Warren Farm and the complete neglect by Ealing Council since the ‘sale’, the site has been returning to nature, at Warren Farm we have a real-world rewilding experiment and the results have been spectacular.
( Photo: Darren Moore 2019)
Hanwell Nature, Ealing Wildlife Group, and members of the Ealing Green Party, as well as members of the public, have all been admiring the reclamation of nature and it’s not an overestimation to say that this once forgotten space has truly blossomed and transformed
The area has now become an impromptu nature reserve, completely unmanaged and is now a key London location of wild acid grasses and wildflowers, home to an incredible array of butterflies, and a number of rare nesting birds. Over the last few months, Hanwell Nature has reported sightings of barn owls, little owls, mistle thrushes, skylarks, starlings, whitethroats, blackcaps, red kites, and kestrels - may of which are on the endangered red list.
“Given that we are at a time of decimation of wild species across the world, it is so exciting to see how quickly nature bounces back when spaces are left to rewild.”
What has overjoyed supporters most is that this has happened over such a short time scale and in such an urban environment, inside the M25 and within a stone’s throw of the M4 Motorway.
The only problem is, for the flora and fauna of West London this is a dead-cat bounce, the last flourish of nature before the bulldozers and HGVs move in to dump 180,000 cubic metres of “Landfill” on to the natural habitats of all of this Hanwell Nature in preparation for the building works.
For the sake of the future of all the country’s wildlife, Warren Farm’s current flourishing wildlife, and the air that we all breath: I urge you Christopher Lee of Populous Architects, you QPR Chairman Amit Bhatia, you Julian Bell of Ealing Council, and you Sadiq Khan Mayor of London to reconsider.
And if you’re reading this from your desk in London, we urge you to unplug, head down to Trumpers Way, come and get some fresh air and experience the benefits and beauty of being present in this thriving natural paradise while you still have the chance.
Darren Moore Ealing Green Party
31 July 2019