Brent and Harrow
5 May 2016 Vote for
Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
Labour Party Londonwide

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St George's Playing Fields: Evidence to the Planning Enquiry

 As you may know, there is a planning enquiry currently being held to determine the future of St George's Playing Fields in Pinner View. Last year the Council rejected the application to build housing on some of the land.

Yesterday I spoke against the proposals as I am in favour of keeping the land as it is. You can find the transcript of my speech below:


My submission is two fold. As an elected member focusing on specific planning grounds and my own experience as a local resident and that of local residents that I represent . 

A poem (Ode) by Marion Garner posted yesterday on her website sums up the mood, emotions and the strength of feeling about the improtance of the fields to me and Harrow’s community.  It goes …..

Ancient Headstone, once so green
Once home to Archbishops, how do you seem?
My ancient meadows are all but gone;
Now parkland, sports grounds or built upon.
Now one solitary field is under threat ……..

I wrote to the planning committee last September setting my objections broadly on the grounds of loss of open space and merits of planning proposals. 

I agree -  it is the planning balance at the heart of the evaluation of the application and the key issue is that of open space.

Before I move to the two significant key policies from the UDP and London Plan that already have been mentioned in earlier submissions today I’d like to draw specific attention to a major aspect of the Mayor’s replacement London Plan,  specific and critical to Harrow.

Specific to Outer London Borough’s, the replacement London Plan drawing from the work of Outer London Commission,  acknowledges large and hugely diverse areas in Outer London ranging from the ‘Metroland’ suburbs like Harrow to Industrial areas like Dagenham. With reference to the Vision and Strategy for Outer London the plan states ‘ the significant differences in the nature and quality of life of Outer London neighbourhood’s must be recognised and improvement initiatives should address these sensitivity in light of local circumstances.

With this in mind INTENSIFICATION AREA for Harrow has been proposed by the Mayor offering significant opportunity for urban renewal to regenerate Harrow Town Centre and Wealdstone. Council’s LDF Panel, of which I’m a member, has undertaken a substantial amount of work on Core Strategy – Intensification Area consideration and policies being major aspect of the vision for Harrow.

It is important to note that the area designated for the Intensification Area is in the very close proximity to the appeal site and the vision and policies in developing Intensification Area will have major direct impact on Headstone South including the appeal site. In addition to developing employment growth, as the London Plan acknowledges there is scope for accommodating a substantial portion of the Borough’s future housing need  through high density residential and mixed use development. Of the 5,200 homes to meet Boroughs needs 2500 are flagged up for development in Intensification Area.

If Harrow is to achieve its vision of Intensified development then it is hugely critical that open spaces are preserved and enhanced throughout the Borough to maintain its ‘Metroland’ character. Open spaces therefore like the St Georges Playing Filed require protection from development to provide access to our community to green spaces and to maintain the character of the locality. In my view it is important that the application site is protected from built development as not only it make vital contribution at local level but it also contributes to the hierarchy of open spaces that Harrow needs.


Other Aspects of London Plan 2004

  • Mr White, referring to Objective 6 in the London Plan this morning mentioned protection and enhancement of green open spaces – I’d like to add - the objective also gives policy direction to ‘re-sue buildings and brownfield sites, rather than developing on green space’.
  • The draft replacement London Plan adds to this in that it states  ‘As part of London’s multi functional green infrastructure, local open spaces are key to improving health and biodiversity. Their loss must be resisted unless equivalent or better quality provision is made within local catchment area.


Moving on to Harrow’s UDP Policy EP47 ‘Open space’

  • It states ‘The Council ‘WILL protect borough’s open spaces, parks, playing fields and recreation grounds regardless of ownership’ ….. ‘Unless surplus to requirements or suitable alternative use is made


  • Justification paragraph 3.14 states :  ‘Protecting open space as a resource is important because once an open space is lost to built development it is difficult to replace’


Based on the evidence from both Harrow’s UDP and London Plan I fundamentally disagree with the previous inspector’s finding that there was only ‘technical contravention’ of policies EP47.


I have lived in the close proximity of the site for the last 30 years in the areas of West Harrow and Central Harrow and having raised two children who grew up in the locality I know the vital importance of such open spaces to our community.


As we all know the strength of feeling amongst local residents is very strong about this site and if localism (including aspects related to departure from the current planning approach) were more than lip service – all the evidence points towards the application resulting in harm to the local community and character of the area. I have no doubt that both in quality and quantity terms the current open space needs to remain and enhanced for it to become welcoming and a resource to provide much needed relief from intense development planned in the future within the stone’s throw distance from the site.