I LIVE with my young family in Northfields and I’m very pleased by the mounting attention that has been given to Warren Farm.
This is an important, yet neglected, piece of metropolitan land and one that deserves much better use.
While Queens Park Rangers FC has been offered the 61-acre site rent free for 200 years, I have an alternative suggestion: one that would create a stronger, longer and more sustainable return on investment, that would reach more of the local community and create a significant legacy for future generations.
Let’s turn Warren Farm into Ealing Wood, the largest public woodland in the borough.
As London’s newest major woodland, Ealing Wood would be a valuable space for us to explore, play and learn. It would be a place for our community to come together around recreation, conservation and education projects.
Warren Farm has a history of recreation and this tradition would be continued.
The woodland would create a destination for people to explore on foot or by bike, to watch wildlife and for guides, scouts, schools and other community groups to learn and work outdoors.
The woodland would contribute to Ealing’s ‘natural health service’, with these activities having the potential to benefit our physical and mental health.
Ealing’s community woodland would provide vital green infrastructure to the capital. It would increase the city’s resilience to climate change, contribute to its sustainable urban drainage system, increase the area’s biodiversity and help us connect to nature.
The Mayor of London wants to find 20 hectares of new woodland to meet London Biodiversity Action Plan targets.
At nearly 25 hectares, the new Ealing Woods would achieve that and more on its own, while massively increasing the diversity, quantity and richness of life across the landscape. The woodland would be planted and managed by the people of Ealing. In future, the existing derelict buildings could be replaced by an education and recreation visitor centre.
As a community-leased, managed and developed initiative the cost to the council would be negligible, but the benefits could be vast.
With all this in mind, I propose that, for every Ealing resident who supports this idea and pledges to nurture the forest, the council provide the Warren Farm site rent free for a year.
The aim will be to find 500 years’ worth of supporters, enough time to grow great oaks, like the ones we all enjoy in Richmond Park.
Such an effort would not only be a legacy for future generations to be proud of, but one that we can all start growing and enjoying today.
I have sent copies of this message to local councillors and relevant London Assembly members as well as Virendra Sharma MP and Lord Young of Norwood Green.
Replying on this blog, http://ravenellison.com/2014/08/25/would-you-like-warren-farm-to-become-ealings-largest-woodland/ could be a good way to share thoughts on the idea.
What do you say? Will you be one of the 500?