Campaigners gear up to save Scrubs Wood

scrubs woodCampaigners have launched a new petition urging London Mayor Boris Johnson to abandon plans to bulldoze an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Locals have also launched a website to save Scrubs Wood (pictured ), a nature reserve that attracts rare birds and butterflies.

Plans by the London Mayor look set to also ruin a canal conservation zone.

Boris Johnson proposes a high-density and high-rise development which would involve flattening Scrubs Wood, a railway land green corridor along the northern border of Wormwood Scrubs open space. I blogged about the plans two days ago. 

Transport for London has also included a proposal to build private homes beside the Grand Union Canal. This appears to flout the canal conservation area.

An example of how the canal would look, taken from the TfL consultation

An example of how the canal would look, taken from the TfL consultation

The consultation document includes a picture of what the canal could look like, showing a line of six-storey housing blocks built right up to the towpath.

The canal is excluded from the ‘green links’ mentioned in the report, which can only be a sign that existing wildlife using the canal will not be catered for.

Scrubs Wood, which is threatened with complete destruction, is a haven for rare birds, voles, lizards and butterflies and includes a nature reserve popular with school children.

TfL’s consultation document refers to “derelict and under-used land” but in the case of Scrubs Wood it is actually a richly diverse green oasis.

The fact that there is only a passing reference to wildlife is misleading. The one paragraph referring to wildlife presents it as an asset rather than part of the land that Boris intends to concrete over. That makes the consultation fatally-flawed as it disguises the intention to destroy this natural habitat.

‘Urban Birder’ David Lindo, star of TV birdwatching programmes, has recorded a stunning number of rare birds on Scrubs Wood, while other nature studies have highlighted the large number of butterfly species, voles, rare flora and fauna, bats and a thriving colony of lizards.

Urban Birder David Lindo at the Scrubs

Urban Birder David Lindo at the Scrubs

Boris wants to cram 19,000 new properties into just 155 hectares making it one of the highest-density new housing developments in the capital. And it will make the College Park & Old Oak ward one of the most populous wards in west London.

The mayor’s plan to build a high-rise development was announced before City Hall have had a chance to draw up an Opportunity Area Planning Framework.

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Core Plan is also silent on development opportunities in Old Oak meaning the plan is being proposed without an overarching strategic vision.

Artists impressions indicate this is a development on the scale of Canary Wharf while the inclusion of tall buildings is justified as “landmarks”.

Estimates of 90,000 jobs being “created” do not tally with the small area ear-marked for businesses. Quite simply the figures simply do not add up.

This can only mean that a high proportion of the 90,000 jobs will not be created at all but instead me made up of existing construction workers and suppliers of materials who would be involved for a short period building the project, and probably includes assumptions about increased economic activity arising from the High Speed 2 line rather as a direct result of the Old Oak development itself.

Recent news reports of the £30 billion cost to the taxpayer more than doubling to £70 billion has led to politicians from all sides queuing up to question the scheme’s viability.

A brief reference in the consultation document to ‘social infrastructure’, such as schools and shops, appear to be an afterthought. The plan appears to count Old Oak as a ‘town centre’ development despite the nearest shopping zone being run-down Willesden High Street. The nearest covered shopping centre is Westfield in Shepherds Bush, over three miles away and only accessible by a bus route.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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