The Harrow Lib Dems recently attended the pre-consultation for the development of the Old Lyonian Ground (St. George's field).
We recognise and appreciate that the developers have voluntarily decided to invest resources to engage with local residents in Harrow and ask for their opinion and their suggestions in advance of submitting a formal planning application, which is aligned best practice in the industry.
However it is the very nature of this development which raises concerns. New developments should generate green areas by rehabilitating brownfield sites, of which Harrow has plenty, instead of dismantling existing ones. To replace a historic and rare green field area with new homes, parking and new roads, is completely contrary to our pledge for Harrow that we published before the recent local elections.
This principle is also embedded in the Mayor’s London Plan, which requires new developments to make urban greening a fundamental element of their site and building design, and to deliver net gains for biodiversity, which we all benefit from. We have significant doubts that this could be achieved through this development.
According to the Harrow Council website, the area is part of the Harrow Green Grid, a network of interlinked, multi-purpose open green space with good connections to the places where people live and work. The Harrow Green Grid is part of the wider London Green Grid. The intent is to develop and improve this network which provides a richly varied landscape that will benefit both people and wildlife, providing diverse uses to appeal to, and be accessible by all. The proposed development does not seem to follow in full, this spirit.
Although the proponent has ensured limited felling of trees, that they will retain a portion of the area green for public access (at least as this is what we understood) and that no high-rise buildings are part of the plan, squeezing 60-70 dwellings (as described and shown during the presentation) drastically reduces a green area that has existed for more than a century, and in the Lib Dems view, is not a positive development for Harrow.
The area has been historically used for recreational activities for students. It would be far better if it could continue to offer its vocational function as a stepping stone for the peri-urban ecosystem of Harrow.
Several attempts have been attempted in the past to develop the area including residential developments (less dense than what seems to be being proposed now) and a school. As far as we know, none of them were successful.
We are concerned that the current Tory administration could have a more lenient approach to applications of this kind, and perhaps this is also the reason for this prompt initiative, arriving just weeks after the new Council administration has been appointed.
The Harrow Lib Dems will continue to study the planning applications previously submitted for this area, and will monitor and review any planning application related to the development presented during the consultation.
Do you have a view on this development? Is it going to affect you, your community or your business in some way, please let us know in the comments below.