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Local plan for Hanger Hill ward sees metropolitan open land (MOL) protection remaining in parts previously threatened with removal

As Ealing Council is set to present the latest version of its new Local Plan before a full council meeting on Wednesday(21 February 2024), Ealing Conservatives have hailed as a victory for residents that has seen the council drop its draft plans to remove metropolitan open land (MOL) protection from Hanger Hill Park, Hanger Wood, Fox Wood, Hanger Wood and majority of Barclays Sports Ground.

Labour-run Ealing Council previously unveiled a draft local plan in late 2022 which set out what the council is seeking to do for the next 15 years covering a range of issues across Ealing including housing, environment, leisure, jobs and more.

A consultation on the draft local plan took place from November 30 2022 until 8 February 2023.

In response to the draft plan, Hanger Hill Conservative Councillors Fabio Conti and Gregory Stafford, collected over 600 signatures from local residents who opposed the original plan which saw proposals to remove MOL protection in their ward. 

Only the former sports clubhouse and associated hard standing at Barclays Sports Ground won’t have MOL status.

Councillor Fabio Conti said: “This is a victory for Hanger Hill residents, who made themselves heard, telling the Council that our limited green space should be given the utmost protection.

Councillor Gregory Stafford added: “Ealing Labour has a track record of trying to build on our green spaces and I am delighted that due to the pressure of local people they have been forced to dump these plans in Hanger Hill. We will continue to oppose inappropriate development in our ward.”

As well as residents and opposition parties opposing the draft local plan, organisations and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan raised concerns over what they saw in the draft.

As a result of all the feedback, Ealing Council says it has been listening to locals across Ealing to finalise the new plan which will have a consultation starting on 28 February 2024 and running for six weeks. In a recently released video by the council, it highlighted five key areas which are included in the new Local Plan.

Ealing Council new Local Plan
Ealing Council new Local Plan

In a statement, Council leader Councillor Peter Mason said: “Our vision for the local plan is one where growth is spread across all of our boroughs 7 towns, so that our residents can have access to genuinely affordable homes, good and well-paid jobs, and live in communities filled with identity and pride.

“We want to take advantage of the strengths that Ealing has to offer, unrivalled connectivity with 5 Elizabeth line stations, the A40 and the soon arriving HS2, industrial opportunity with Park Royal and Southall, and the wealth of green and open spaces across the borough.

“We’ve engaged with thousands of residents from across the borough on this plan, and we know that building upon these areas  will allow us to make Ealing a destination rather than just a dormitory suburb, where new businesses can grow and thrive, and our residents can live, learn, and raise a family.”

On the initial draft plan, concerns were raised across a wide range of areas including tall buildings and open land.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England London (CPRE London) said they would be challenging Ealing Council’s draft plans which they claim will remove protections from parks.

According to CPRE London, Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) sites, which have the same level of protection as Green Belt, including Acton Park, will lose their protection completely.

Speaking to EALING.NEWS in 2023, Alice Roberts, head of campaigns at CPRE London said: “It is unprecedented for a borough to seek to remove official Metropolitan Open Land protection – which gives the sites the same protection as Green Belt – from vast areas of land – eight large sites in fact. These sites are nearly all in constant use for recreation or sports or as parks and it’s vital the protections remain in place for future generations. Some small parts of these sites may have gone out of use but the answer to this is to work with local sports clubs and wildlife groups bring them back into use or create critical habitat to tackle the nature crisis, not to exclaim that they no longer need to be protected.”

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan raised concerns over many parts of Ealing Council’s proposed 15 year local plan when first shown the draft and called parts of it “inappropriate” as well as highlighting concern over the council’s “proposed approach towards its Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land.”

The Mayor also sought Ealing Council to be clearer on tall buildings and said: “The draft Plan does not clearly identify areas it considers suitable for tall buildings in a single map”.

Full details of the council’s new draft local plan will be unveiled and debated on 21 January 2024 during a full council meeting and will also be uploaded to its website.

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