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