Countryside Charity Identifies Warren Farm as a Priority

CPRE wants it to be one of ten new parks to be created in London

skylarks have appeared in the Warren Farm area
Skylark one of species that has appeared since development plans abandoned

The London branch of countryside charity CPRE has named Warren Farm in Hanwell as one of ten new parks it wants to see created in London.

CPRE, which was formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, believes the capital has just half the green space it needs for a population its size.

The charity wants to gain commitments from the candidates for the London Mayoral elections and the relevant boroughs to work with local groups to transform these spaces into useful new parks and protect them from development.

CPRE are now working in partnership with the Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS) which launched a campaign in January 2021 to designate Warren Farm and its surrounding meadows by the River Brent as a statutory Local Nature Reserve (LNR). The BRCS, which under its founder Luke Fitzherbert, campaigned successfully to create the Brent River Park in the 1970s, started a petition which has now attracted over 7,000 signatures.

Since Ealing Council stopped using Warren Farm as a sports facility, the meadows have rewilded and now form an urban grassland. Supporters of the nature reserve plan say that species of birds including the Skylark, mammals, plants, reptiles, amphibians and insects which are rare in London have been recorded on the land.

Ealing Council voted over a decade ago to seek LNR status for the surrounding meadows but has yet to complete this process. In January 2021, the council published its Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy. This aims to expand the borough’s network of green spaces and to increase meadow habitats by 10% by 2025. The CPRE and BRCS believe that it is unlikely that this aim could be achieved if the already existing meadow habitats at Warren Farm were to be developed.

CPRE Head of Campaigns, Alice Roberts, said, “We want the London Mayoral election candidates and the relevant London boroughs to support the local campaigns and make a clear statement for each site that it will not be released for development; to promise to give each site a new identity as a park to be managed in conjunction with the local community; and to encourage landowners to bring down fences and reinstate public access. Warren Farm Nature Reserve, a large area of abandoned former playing fields and land, was at risk of being given away but now, in cooperation with the local charity the Brent River & Canal Society, this unique rewilded space does not have to be lost and can be a jewel for nature and physical activity for years to come as a Local Nature Reserve.”

Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign organiser and BRCS trustee Katie Boyles said, “It means a lot to us to be working with CPRE London. Their support and knowledge has already proved invaluable to us. The Covid crisis has shown us the importance of access to nature, improving our health and well-being. We are also facing a climate emergency. With only 2% of wildflower meadows left in the UK, it is crucial that these meadow habitats are safeguarded from future development as Warren Farm Nature Reserve.”

BRCS trustee and local naturalist Phil Belman added, “Our expert surveys have provided overwhelming evidence to justify the statutory Local Nature Reserve designation. BRCS offers our support, experience and expertise to assist Council Officers to achieve this vision and we stand ready to work in partnership with Ealing Council and all others who sign up to it.”

The campaign, which was initially inspired by young conservationist Kabir Kaul, has already gained some prominent backers, such as Lord Randall of Uxbridge, forensic botanist Mark A Spencer, the Barn Owl Trust, West London Ramblers and London National Park City. It calls on Ealing Council Leader, Julian Bell, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to support the nature reserve plan.

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March 25, 2021