A meeting of Ealing Council’s cabinet where it unveiled its ambitious regional park plan has left campaigners ‘baffled’ as parts of it appear to be contradictory.
The scheme would see a diverse “mosaic of connected habitats encompassing the river, meadows, woodland, wetland, ponds and lakes” spanning the centre of the borough.
Deputy Leader of Ealing Council & Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Councillor Dierdre Costigan presented the plan to cabinet stating that the “regional park would be of significant seize” and connected “allowing people from across the borough to have access.”
The park will be a place for “lovers of nature, culture and play,” and would serve Ealing’s growing population which is set to expand from 344,000 to 400,000 by 2031 according to the councillor’s figures.
Her plan is ambitious with the park not seen as just an open space for Ealing but a spot that would attract people from all over London. Cllr Costigan said she wanted the regional park to be “as transformative for West London as Elizabeth II Park has been for East London”. The scheme presents some ways in which the park might be achieved.
It largely focuses on the expansion and increased connectivity of Brent River Park by allowing for rewilding including by decommissioning areas of green space that are currently highly manicured. One example of this is a preliminary decision to close Perivale Golf Course and add it to the council’s portfolio of open green space for the public.
However this particular detail has ‘baffled’ members of The Brent River and Canal Society who say that the plan, although welcome, seems to contradict the council’s own stance about a hotly disputed piece of land that currently sits at the end of Brent River park.
Warren Farm has become a battleground for campaigners ever since a proposal to turn at least a third of it into a new sports facility. Cllr Costigan mentions the area only to say that the council will be rewilding 64% of it, however, forgets to mention that the whole section of land is currently rewilded.
Part of the grasslands would have to be cut back for the football pitch plan to be realised seemingly going against the council’s own regional park idea as laid out in the cabinet meeting.
In response, The Brent River and Canal Society said: “We are delighted to see that Ealing Council has taken on board our suggestions to extend the Brent River Park, as made in our response to the draft Local Plan in February. While we have yet to see a detailed proposal, in principle the idea has the potential to be very beneficial for our community and wildlife.
“The council’s rationale for the park echoes many of the points we have been making for some years. As the Creation of a Regional Park report says:
- The borough’s population is projected to grow which will increase in demand for less formal outdoor spaces for people to be active.
- Large areas with diverse connected habits offer the best opportunities to encourage wildlife and provide ecological resilience.
- The loss of wild places leaves us ill-equipped to reduce carbon emissions.
- Wetlands and meadows are among the best ways to capture carbon.
- There is a need to restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity and provide space for nature to re-establish itself.
A connected park would help to:
- Reduce the likelihood of floods and sewage overflow;
- Provide much needed flood resilience;
- Provide more opportunities for Ealing’s residents to connect with nature;
- Improve air quality;
- Encouraging walking and cycling;
- Increase community engagement amongst residents and reduce loneliness
“Given all these valid points, we are surprised and frankly baffled that Ealing Council still appears to be persisting with its plan to de-wild Warren Farm Nature Reserve, which sits within the Brent River Park.
The Creation of a Regional Park report advocates, “A mosaic of connected habitats encompassing the river, meadows, woodland, wetland, ponds and lakes”, “a new generation of wildlife grassland” and “the large-scale restoration of ecosystems to the point where nature can take care of itself”.
That’s exactly what the borough currently has in Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows! Surely the council is not intending to spend a significant sum on de-wilding Warren Farm, only to then spend another significant sum on re-wilding elsewhere.
“Ealing Council’s report reads like a manifesto for designating the whole of Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows as a Local Nature Reserve, as we, and our 23,000 supporters, are requesting.”
The council has previously it is still awaiting an ecological survey on Warren Farm and that nothing is “Nothing is yet set in stone,” adding “we have commissioned detailed nature and ecology surveys to help inform the next steps of this project. We will continue to work with local groups and community stakeholders as we make this a reality.”