YOU published a letter last week from the Harrow Heritage Trust and Nature Conservation Forum expressing concern at any possible sale -and the implied loss of local amenity and encroachment/loss - of Green Belt.
I would like to clarify some of the facts behind this matter,and perhaps resolve some misunderstandings.
Wood Farm covers around 72 acres and is agricultural land within the Green Belt. Harrow Council owns the freehold, but the land is leased under two separate leases. One lease covers the northern 43 acres and runs to March 2086. The southern remainder of 19 acres, and an area of 10 acres in the angle of Wood Lane and Brockley Hill, is under an annual agricultural tenancy in perpetuity.None of the area is part of Stanmore Country Park.
There is no public access to the land, which was used for tipping until the mid-1990s. It has been derelict ever since,with an assortment of dilapidated buildings, including two homes in the area close to Wood Lane,and outbuildings/barns with concrete surfacing.
Much of the site is designated as a site of Importance for Nature Conservation, but not the area abutting the road as set out in the 2004 Unitary Development Plan.
A planning application for 10 homes on just under three acres was submitted about two years ago, and went through the standard consultation process. It has been held in abeyance ever since because of various surveys required relating to nesting birds, reptiles, bats and newts, which have now been completed, as have discussions with the GLA regarding what will be a vast enlargement to the country park.
The proposal under consideration is for the sale of a freehold interest in about three acres in the Pear Wood corner by Wood Lane to the holder of the leases (a company owned by CP Holdings) and release under the leases of the other 69 acres back to Harrow Council, including payment of costs towards making good the land to be united with Stanmore Country Park, receiving the same protection as the country park, which would thus be extended by 69 acres, from its present 88 acres, to 157 acres. This would hugely enhance the country park, and increase this critical green resource by three quarters. At the same time,provision would be made within this acreage for a very substantial wildlife refuge covering the entirety of the 10-acre area on the corner of Wood Lane and Brockley Hill, combined with Pear Wood (which covers 35 acres), to establish an undisturbed area for wildlife with a combined area of 45 acres.
This extension to the country park would open up an outstanding walk and recreation area, linking up to Wood Lane.It would be a great asset to Harrow.
The planning proposal referred to above is for 10 detached houses on the area presently having the majority of the already built/concreted area, an increase of eight over those already on the site.
Effectively,the council has a choice: leave the area as is, derelict and inaccessible to the public,or take an opportunity to protect and extend the country park and establish a large wildlife protection area. Given that the area is under long or perpetual leases, the council has no other option as the freeholder.
COUNCILLOR DAVID ASHTON
Leader of Harrow Council