Another Attack On Inner City Open Space

Posted on: 06 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

This time, it's Michael Wale's very own allotment in East Acton.

There's been yet another attack on inner city open space - the allotments in East Acton.

I reveal an interest in that I am the Hon Sec of the Acton Gardening Association and it is amazing to discover how this alleged Labour government treats its ordinary citizens.

It all began some years ago when the wonderful almshouses, dating from the mid-1800’s, were sold by the wretched alleged Honourable Company of Goldsmiths, to a company who had its offices in Huntingdon, but in fact were registered off-shore.

Surely the Honourable Goldsmiths, who had been willed the houses for the good of the people of Acton by John Perryn, a blacksmith from Bromyard, Herefordshire, would look after ours, and their, heritage?

Alas, no. Greed overcame these City wine bibbers, and they sold them to a firm of developers called Golden Property Holdings.  They not only wanted to enlarge the beautiful but small historic almshouses, so they could let them out to the wealthy who do not live in Acton, but remove the protective clauses on the allotments behind them when all this open land has been there as long as the almshouses.

So along come Golden Property Holding, who I gather are registered in the Virgin Island, with a wish to remove the protective clauses. Now this is where the story really begins, because they went to Ealing Council.

Ealing Council never told us, the allotment holders, or indeed the Association that controls the allotments, and never even told the local residents about these proposals.

In the past, Ealing Council has allowed a huge number of allotments to be taken over by the Park Club, a ‘health’ club based in nearby wealthy Chiswick.  But, in their favour, this time around, they turned down the planning application. But that has had little effect upon the voracious developers.

Everywhere in Britain, we are in danger from get-rich-quick developers who have no feelings for local communities. This has been already felt in nearby, far wealthier Barnes, where Environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, campaigned against Sainsburys opening a store in what is an inner London village.  Since he is well-heeled, he was able to back an independent referendum and 8,000 residents voted against the Sainsburys store. Despite this, the Government funded  Bristol based Planning Inspectorate sided with Sainsburys.

Anyway now Zac has called for a local boycott of the store when it is built. Brilliant. But the linking factor here are the boys and girls in Bristol, who know nothing of the local communities they are dealing with, and pass appalling after appalling applications, or even worse appeals.

Back to the Acton allotments, the dreaded developers have lodged an appeal to the Planning Inpectorate in Bristol against the imposed conditions at the same time as submitting planning applications to the Council to vary or remove several of the conditions. This is what is causing the confusion for local residents on whether they can now comment.

I now quote from a letter from a Maggie Perry at Ealing Council Planning, to the chairman of the Acton Gardening Association.

“Local residents can comment on the current planning applications but not on the appeal. However, any representations received in connection with the original planning application would have been forwarded to the Planning Inspector in connection with the appeal, and the Council and developer have both now submitted their statements.”

What gobbledeygook!  Fortunately a wonderful mother of three, Chiara Walwyn with her husband Howard, are fighting the cause to stop the terrible foreign registered developers from ruining a part of English history, already sold out by the Unworshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Shame on them!

Chiara Walwyn has produced a fighting call to the barricades saying, “The new Conservative Council has a commitment to ‘grow your own’ and ‘all things green’ as well as the welfare of its elderly population.  It is therefore very disappointing that the council has not come to the defence of this conservation site to the Inspectorate.  With the full public support it should have had. The Goldsmith allotments are especially treasured for their peaceful and historic situation. And give many people, most of whom are elderly, a quality of life they would never otherwise experience.”

What David Cameron, urged on by his friend Zac Goldsmith must do is change this whole Labour cavalier approach to planning. The community must be brought to the forefront of life, and the developers brought to heel!

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