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Rewilded site in West London to be protected

By racheld
4th March 2024

After years of campaigning and legal battles, locals at Warren Farm, West London, have been told by Ealing Council their 61 acres of public land will be saved for future generations after granting it Local Natural Reserve status.

According to the Council, the site will have ‘the best of both worlds’ becoming both a Local Natural Reserve and have a new sports ground on additional land.

Katie Boyles, who headed up The Warren Farm Nature Reserve group, said: “We are delighted that Ealing Council has agreed to designate Warren Farm as a Local Nature Reserve. Credit to the council for taking stock and reversing plans that would have been hugely environmentally damaging. There is, of course, much work to be done, details to secure and discussions to be had.

“What’s fantastic is that we can now work together on this landmark decision with our supporters, community, and ecological experts to ensure the safeguarding of Ealing’s rare and beloved species. For our copse bindweed, skylarks, barn owls, butterflies and so much more, this marks a significant step in London’s environmental conservation.”

“If our skylarks could thank you themselves, they would. Watch this green space.”

Campaigners had a long battle over the Metropolitan Open Land, about the size of St James’s Park, and once mostly used as community playing fields until they fell into disrepair in 2013. The site, owned by Imperial College London, was reclaimed by nature and rewilded, but the council at one point decided to lease it to QPR football club for a new training facility before changing its mind after pressure from the campaign group. 

Katie, who’s also a trustee at the Brent River & Canal Society, was joined by other passionate campaigners, including Alice Roberts at CPRE London who made it part of the charity’s Ten New Parks for London Initiative.

Alice said: “Giving Warren Farm Local Nature Reserve status helps ensure that it is valued and looked after, rather than having no clear identity, which is how it came to be threatened.”

Council leader Peter Mason said: “Ever since the start of our plans to deliver both sports and rewilding at Warren Farm, we’ve worked to try and secure the best of both worlds.

“So, we’re over the moon to have agreed with Imperial College that the new sports pitches can go on their land to the north of Warren Farm. It means that all of the existing green space that people know as Warren Farm today, can continue to be rewilded.

“It means we can finally move forward to getting rid of the old, dilapidated buildings and get on with delivering a community sports facility that Southall and Hanwell can be proud of.

“We will continue to want to work in partnership with local residents and campaigners to deliver a bold, community led plan to safeguard Warren Farm’s open and biodiverse future.”

Warren Farm volunteers and campaigners
Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaigners (left to right) Steve Toft, Phil and Aisha Belman, Kabir Kaul, Katie Boyles, Clemmie Shevlin and Peter Edwards  Will Amlot