Harrow is about to lose one of its most remarkable pieces of open land.
Wood Farm lies south of Wood Lane on the high ground above Stanmore. If you stand in Wood Farm, your view stretches from the ancient woodland of Pear Wood on the east, over the public open space of Stanmore Country Park, to the pines of Cloisters Wood to the west.
Raising your eyes you see far over London: over St Paul's and the Millenium Wheel to Crystal Palace hill and the North Downs in the distance. The site was bought in 1942 by the then Middlesex County Council with the intention that it be public open space.
This never happened, but at least leasing of the land to farmers and other users ensured that it remained open, preserving as green and undeveloped the ridgeline that we all see as we look north from Harrow centre. Harrow Council states that the land is a mess - this is not true. Although it was used for many years for illegal dumping, the rubbish has been covered with soil and is now a wildlife haven, full of the song of birds.
The council now proposes to sell the highest part of this land at the north east corner of the site.
There is a simultaneous application to build houses. These are not even low-cost houses for the ordinary people of Harrow - these will be mansions, each worth a million pounds or so, worth so much because of the view - the view that was bought for the benefit of all the people of Harrow back in 1942.
The council will argue that some of the site must be sold to fund restoration of the remainder as a public open space. This is simply false.
If the present leaseholder does not want to farm the land, they should return all of it to the council. The volunteers at Harrow Nature Conservation Forum are happy to take over responsibility for the entire space. Some of it - including the high land with the views - would be immediately opened to the public. We would then apply for grants to allow us to make save the remainder.
In 2006 the council was presented with a petition of 8,200 signatures urging them to act to preserve our green belt. We urge the council to listen to the people of Harrow and reconsider its proposal.
Chairman Harrow Nature Conservation Forum
Chairman Harrow Heritage Trust