Friends of Pinn Meadows welcome the proposal to designate the King’s College Playing Fields as Metropolitan Open Land but we strongly oppose the area losing is its designation as part of a Green Chain. This change would fail to take into account the important role that Green Chain links provide in forming a physical and visual break within the urban area, and thus the additional protection that is provided by Green Chain designation.
Kings College Playing Fields are part of the locally important Celandine Routes, a stretch of 12 miles along the River Pinn from Pinner to the Grand Union Canal at Cowley, through green spaces, conservation areas and wildlife havens. The area forms a link between the historically important Manor Farm site to the west and Haydon Hall Park and Eastcote House Gardens to the east.
While the Local Plan Part 2 also recommends designating these areas Metropolitan Open Land, it would be a retrograde step to strip Manor Farm and Eastcote House Gardens too of the Green Chain status, as the plan also proposes.
It is our view that Hillingdon Council should look to provide maximum protection for their green spaces and all of these sites should remain protected by Green Chain designation in the same way that other London boroughs such as Southwark have provided dual designation of green chain and metropolitan land for all of their Green Chain sites.
Indeed dual designation should be expected for existing Green Chain areas given that one of the accepted criteria for Metropolitan Open Land in the London Plan is that it forms part of a Green Chain and therefore dual designation could in no way detract from the effectiveness of either green chain or MOL policy.
Neither would dual designation cause the planning inspector any concerns, cost additional money or create additional work. MOL and Green Chain can each provide protection against inappropriate development in different circumstances. Therefore this seems no sensible justification for not deploying both in this instance.
Green Chain policy
We also object to the proposed weakening of the wording of the Green Chain policy and wish to keep the current Green Chain policy (EM2) which was adopted in Local Plan Part 1. This states:
“Any proposals for developments in Green Chains will be firmly resisted unless they maintain the positive contribution of the Green Chain and providing a visual physical break in the built-up area; conserve and enhance the visual amenity and nature conservation value of the landscape; encourage appropriate public access and recreation facilities where they are compatible with the conservation value of the area, and retain the openness of the Green Chain.”
It is clear that the proposed Green Chain policy (DME15) is very similar to the earlier Green Chain policy (OL11) which predated Hillingdon Local Plan Part 1 and which the current Green Chain Policy (EM2) was brought in to tighten up.
It now appears that the council proposes to return to something very like the earlier, weaker policy.
Existing policies effective
The effectiveness of the present policy (EM2) is demonstrated by the succession of recent planning applications relating to Kings College Playing Fields where planning officers accepted proposals under the earlier green chain policy (OL11), while an essentially similar application was later refused under the conditions of the present policy (EM2).
It should also be noted that the planning inspector did not see a need for a change to the existing policy EM2 when he commented in his report in July 2012 on Local Plan Part 1 as follows:
“With regards to open space and recreation provision generally, to “green corridors” and biodiversity matters, I find that the policies and provisions of the local plan are well justified, will be effective and consistent with the London Plan and the Framework. No significant issues have been raised that caused me to question the planned soundness in these respects and therefore no main modifications are needed.”
This makes it clear that is not necessary to weaken the terms of Hillingdon’s current green chain pavilion provisions in order to take account of government or London planning policies.
Friends of Pinn Meadows are strongly of the view that Hillingdon Council shall retain the wording of the existing policy (EM2), which has already been applied effectively in the borough.
Previously in the Green Chain debates
FOPM meeting on Monday 31 March 2014
A key agenda item was Hillingdon Council’s proposals to amend the local plan which would change the current Green Chain policy redesignate Pinn Meadows and other important green space sites as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).
FOPM Chairman Rob Cousins wrote to Cabinet member, councillor Philip Corthorne.
He expressed residents’ concerns that officers would recommend that objections the removal of the Green Chain designation from a number of key sites across the borough be ignored.
The Ruislip Gazette of 18 December 2013 summed up residents’ concerns.