Harrow Nature Conservation Forum

April 2005

Chairman’s Report: 16.03.05

We have just received the Inspector's Report on the Public Inquiry about the change of use of the BAE Systems site on Stanmore Common. As anticipated the recommendation is that the appeal be allowed. This means that housing will be built on the site, a disaster for the common where Simon and his colleagues have worked so hard over the past decade.

We have argued that, of all the possible uses, housing will have the highest adverse impact. There is an implicit discipline in an institutional use of any site which is missing from housing development. But the authorities will not see this, or perhaps will not acknowledge it.

Sadly, I have to say that there was no resistance from Harrow. The officers who gave evidence at the enquiry were only concerned with the detail and a considerable list of conditions is attached to the permission. Many of these are supposed to protect the common but they are bureaucratic and will not work on the ground. There is no evidence of any practical experience nor any ability to think outside the bureaucratic envelope.

Assuming the development goes ahead, I cannot see that we have any solution either. The only safe way forward would be to find an institutional use for the site, but there is no will to do this.

Carole Lis has produced a map showing all of the 11 Green-belt sites under threat of development, and we have obtained a copy of a Master Plan produced by developers for the BAE site. We have engaged the ear of Lord Rogers who has described the plan as 'numbingly bad', and has offered to help if he can.

At the same time Harrow has appointed consultants to produce a Green-belt strategy! We have contributed strongly to this exercise mainly by getting the consultants out onto the ground. At the same time LA21 is pressing for the borough to produce the Biodiversity Action Plan which is required of all LAs.

So we have the borough facing both ways at the same time; not a particularly productive arrangement? It all begins to look like one of those novels where the politicians, in fear for their own skins, overrule the wisdom of the hero until disaster breaks and then depend on him to get the world out of the mess. The only thing lacking is a cute media reporter who spills the beans to an angry populace.

Who, I wonder, will clear up this mess?

MAURICE E PICKERING


DEVELOPMENT REPORT by Simon Braidman

Maurice Pickering, Carol Lis, I and others attended the planning appeal for the BAE Systems site. I can only say we did the best we could but the Inspector, as we feared, saw things very differently from us. He put great emphasis on the lack of housing provision in Harrow and despite the unsuitability of this site, which he recognised, decided to allow the appeal. No account was taken of the combined effects of all the adjacent developments. Most of all, Harrow Council let us down by the way they 'caved-in' and connived with BAE. This is not the first time. Look how they allowed 'The Limes' in lovely woodland to become many luxury houses in a landscaped garden. The woodland was largely destroyed on this Green Belt site. There is no Green Belt planning exception for this site but the Council have allowed it and have continued to allow building there.

Be aware however that this attitude is not restricted to the Green Belt. The residents of Pinner Road who had the railway embankmcnt behind them declared a nature reserve will have to endure a Public Hearing to defend it against an application to build a block of flats there. Harrow Council delayed their refusal until the statuary eight week deadline had passed. This hearing wiII be at the Council Taxpayer’s expense. lf this is not fought, maybe the public parks will be next on the list.


Site reports

STANMORE COMMON REPORT by Simon Braidman

The Common is doing well. Heathland regeneration is continuing apace. I especially like gorse. It flowers even in winter and gives a lovely splash of colour. In my opinion, the greatest pleasure to be had is the new wetlands. The stream diversion on Marsh 1 has worked brilliantly. Instead of one water channel there are now three and the intervening ground is sodden. We have cut back the trees to allow more light in. Further down the valley is a wet woodland area where we have used trees to fence this off. At the valley bottom is the "river delta". The dam has worked brilliantly and we saw tadpoles here last year. The "instream” is also working well and is full of Caddis Fly and Stonefly larvae. The new pond next to it was full of Daphnia. There is still a lot to do. Stanmore Common has access problems and clashes between horse riders, pedestrians and ecology are rising. This will increase if 200 houses are built on the BAE site. A new management plan is due and it could not come at a more critical time.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH Report by Dave Bolton

A BTCV party came in January to clear scrub and cut back some of the hedging. In February the 10 tons of path stone arrived courtesy of the London Borough of Harrow and a start was made to redress some of the paths. We also picked up litter around the steps. On February 26th frog spawn was seen in the main pond.

STANMORE COUNTRY PARK Report by John Hollingdale

The BTCV have been busy in the Country Park this winter. They finished the removal of encroaching bramble in Area 9 (six acres) by the Dennis Lane entrance gate. Hopefully now the annual cut will take care of any re. growth (Mr Whittington please note). They also removed an area of bramble in Area 4 (Jo}m Hall's field) by the central path. Hopefully tile grass will return.


Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw


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