Challenge against QPR's 200-year rent free lease fails
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Legal
A court has turned down a legal challenge against a decision to lease Queen's Park Rangers a sports field for 200 years rent-free.
'Save Warren Farm' campaigners have expressed disappointment at the decision made at the Planning Court at the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Ouseley, who ruled that Ealing Council did not act unlawfully when disposing of the site.
Warren Farm is 61 acres of publicly-owned land, currently laid down, in its entirety, to community playing fields.
Under the deal with QPR, two thirds of the land will be for the exclusive use of the club and only one third of the land, with access controlled by the Championship side, will be available to the community.
Labour-run Ealing Council has approved planning permission and signed a development agreement with QPR who will build their elite training and academy headquarters on the site.
Carolyn Brown, chair of Hanwell Community Forum, who brought the case on behalf of the community, said: “The decision at today’s Hearing was deeply disappointing, although not at all surprising. On the surface of it, the Council appears to have done everything that they needed to do in the process.
"However, consulting residents in only one Ward, when the impact of the loss of these community playing fields will affect the whole Borough, and holding key meetings before and immediately after the Christmas period, and during the August holiday period, were all actions that helped to ensure that it was as difficult as possible for the Community to challenge the Council effectively. And they have acted as both judge and jury when scrutinising their own decision-making.”
Lib Dem cllr Nigel Bakhai said: “This was a terrible decision by the council and now it’s been rubber-stamped by the courts.
“The residents of Hanwell have not been properly consulted, and the council has to learn lessons from how badly they have run this process. The Lib Dems will do everything we can to stop this development going ahead."
In a statement, Ealing Council said: "We are very pleased that a High Court judge has upheld the court’s original decision to reject an application for a judicial review of the council’s decision relating to Warren Farm sports ground. The judge rejected all claims against the council and confirmed that we acted appropriately in granting Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club (QPR FC) planning permission and a lease of the site.
"QPR is investing millions of pounds into community facilities and a comprehensive community sports programme, which will significantly improve local people’s access to sport. We look forward to seeing this project get off the ground so that people can start using it as quickly as possible."