Save Home Farm Green Belt: The Story So Far

In July 2015, a large tract of Green Belt land in Hayes End, Middlesex,  was listed for sale on the property website Rightmove, with a guide price of £5.5m for all 144 of its acres.

The site, known as Home Farm or Hayes Park, consists of fields, woodland, stables, and office buildings, while the bulk of the land is primarily used as grazing land for horses.

For local residents, Home Farm and its surroundings are highly cherished, as they provide them with access to the type of views more commonly found in the Sussex countryside, rather than a bustling West London suburb.

But, in light of the listing on Rightmove, concerns have been rightly raised by residents about the fate of the site once it inevitably falls under new ownership, with many fearful it could pave the way for this sizeable chunk of Green Belt land to be built upon.

Gated entrance to field

Field access, Mellow Lane East

The state of play

Following an abortive attempt to sell the land in late 2015, the site was re-listed in February 2016 for sale, and fresh round of sealed bids sought.

On the back of this, the site has now been listed as “SOLD – SUBJECT TO CONTRACT”

At the time of writing, it is still not known if the site is likely to be sold-off in its entirety, or divided up into five separate lots.

Friends of Hayes End has been in frequent contact with the estate agency overseeing the sale and is awaiting further details of what the new owner has in store for the site.

Either way, no planning permission has been sought to build on it yet either.

However, that hasn’t stopped the local people and businesses of Hayes End, Charville, Park Lane, Kingshill and the surrounding areas pledging their support to fight any attempt to side-step the area’s Green Belt status and build upon it.

As such, news of the threat to Home Farm has taken up column inches in the local press, and has seen residents take part in public demonstrations to show their commitment to the fight.

There have also been public meetings, chaired by Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell, to discuss how, as a community, residents should prepare themselves should planning permission be sought to build on the land in the future.

Following on from this, a further meeting took place on 24 September to discuss what – as a community – our next steps should be to ensure we’re ready should a disagreeable planning application be lodged.

As such, the Campaign to Protect Rural England has pledged to support local efforts to protect the land, and has already added Hayes Park to its map of under threat Green Belt sites within Greater London.

We’re also working closely with local wildlife groups in an attempt to quantify the ecological and environmental risks of losing Hayes Park to development.

Aside from all this, our mission is to make as many people as possible aware of what’s going on, and the long-lasting impact on the local area should the site be developed.

What’s this website all about?

The aim of this site is to provide an up-to-date information hub for local residents, businesses and other stakeholders concerned with safeguarding the future of the local area’s green, open spaces, so check back regularly for updates.

Protect Hillingdon Green Belt is being run by the Friends of Hayes End group, an informal, Facebook-based residents’ association, who also plan to use it as a platform for local residents to voice their support and share details of just why the area means so much to them.

So – if you want to help – feel free to drop us a line at FriendsofHayesEnd@gmail.com

Best wishes,

Your Friends in Hayes End

This article was originally published on 23 August 2015, but was updated on 27 September to acknowledge new developments in the Save Home Farm Campaign.

Home Farm Green Belt: How at risk is it from development?

In years gone by, the protection afforded to areas designated as Green Belt land has visibly diminished, as the demand for affordable housing and civic amenities for the UK’s booming population has grown.

Figures released by construction consultancy Glenigan in June 2015 bear this out, and revealed a 430% rise in planning application approvals for developments on Green Belt land over the past five years.

The reasons for this aren’t difficult to fathom and can largely be traced back to the Coalition Government’s decision to push through new planning regulations in 2012 that – essentially – relaxed the rules on developing Green Belt land.

The upturn in the UK economy has also played a part, as property developers look to tap into the demand for new housing stock that people who struggled to get a foot on the property ladder during the recession are now driving.

But that’s only part of the story. The previous government also actively encouraged local councils to prioritise the reuse of Brownfield sites over building on Green Belt land.

It’s this policy, in particular, that has paved the way for much of the residential redevelopment going on in Hayes Town at the moment, for example, in anticipation of the arrival of Crossrail in 2018-19.

The completion of the high-frequency trainline is widely-tipped to prompt a rise in house prices within Hayes and the surrounding area, as it delivers on its goal to make it easier and quicker for people to travel into Central London.

If the expected impact on property prices turns out to be true, the demand for new housing in the area is likely to follow, which could – theoretically – put more pressure on the council to permit development on Green Belt sites like Hayes Farm.

And it’s for all these reasons local residents are so concerned about the fate of Home Farm and its open spaces once the 144-acre stretch of Green Belt land it sits within is sold off.

As it stands, though, no planning permission of any kind has been sought for the land, despite its imminent sale, which makes it difficult at this point to gauge how much of a fight lies ahead.

Even so, there’s no denying the uncertainty over the situation has got local residents worried.

The area has faced similar threats in the past, the most recent one being in 2011, and nothing came of it. But, that was before the relaxation of the planning laws, and at a time when the economy was still largely in the doldrums.

A lot has changed in four years, and just because plans to develop the site failed to win the approval of Hillingdon Council in 2011, it would be foolhardy to assume that would automatically be the case this time around.

One bright spot on the horizon is the contents of Hillingdon Council’s 2013 Green Belt Assessment Update. In it, a large portion of the Home Farm site was earmarked for retention as Green Belt, on the grounds that its presence will protect this area of Hayes from the effects of “urban sprawl.”

However, as the picture shows, this designation (pictured right) doesn’t appear to cover the entire site that’s up for sale (pictured left), which should be just cause for local concern.

Hayes Farm mapHome Farm