CAMPAIGNERS have lost a fight to protect a green space despite a petition supported by more than 5,000 people.
Councillor Jonathan Bianco, Hillingdon Council’s cabinet member for finance, property and business services, turned down the request to register Pinn Meadows as a village green during a petition hearing on Wednesday last week, in order to protect the future interests of the council which would be restricted by the village green status.
Mr Bianco said the council intends to designate the area as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) instead, at its September cabinet meeting.
MOL has the same status as green belt, and would give the meadows protection under both Hillingdon’s Local Plan Policy and the London Plan drawn up by the Office of the Mayor of London.
Neighbours who supported the petition by the Friends of Pinn Meadows (FOPM) wanted to halt any future applications from Eastcote Hockey Club (EHC) to build a second artificial pitch in King’s College Playing Fields, in what has become a long-running and contentious issue.
Mike Philpott, of Broadwood Avenue, Ruislip, who attended the hearing, said: “The threat from EHC is much greater than you think. They have said they are determined to come back with a new application.
“Five thousand-plus people wanted to make it a village green because we didn’t want the hockey club to have a chance to build another pitch. The fact is Metropolitan Open Land doesn’t give the same protection.
“They are not doing what the residents want – they are doing what suits the council best. I feel like I’ve been fobbed off.”
Mr Bianco said the council did not intend to grant planning permission to EHC. “The best tool we have with regard to future planning applications from the hockey club is that we own the land,” he said.
“Unless they can persuade the local residents to get on-side – which is highly unlikely – then they won’t get permission.
“We have told the club that their pitch would be approved if it was in a different location.”
Rob Riddleston, chairman of EHC, said moving the club to another ground is ‘not plan A’ but that discussions continue as to the best way to take the application for a second pitch forward.
The club had been made aware that Pinn Meadows might be awarded MOL status. Despite being given an opportunity to speak at the hearing, FOPM decided not to attend, in a dispute about petition rules. Chairman Rob Cousins said the group was ‘disappointed and angry’ that the council changed the rules that formerly allowed petitions with more than 2,500 signatures to be heard at a full council meeting.
“The rule changes, which were made over a month after we had submitted our petition, are an injustice for over 5,000 residents who took the time and effort to support us in the knowledge that it would be presented to a full council meeting,” Mr Cousins said.
FOPM are now considering options to legally challenge the council’s retrospective petition rule change.