Reader’s comment: We will fight against development

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is closing

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is closing - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Times’ readers this week.

Your article “Free Hindu school could open in Northwick Park to replace Swaminarayan” quotes Bob Blackman MP’s comment on the potential for “a school to be set up on what is loosely called the Northwick Park site” writes, Gaynor Lloyd, Northwick Park ward resident, full address supplied.

As to what Mr Blackman - very loosely - calls the “Northwick Park site” actually is, I suppose the clue is in the name - Northwick Park. Northwick Park includes public footpaths, a sports pavilion, much used playing fields and the golf course - but, crucially including from a planning point of view - it is strategically important Metropolitan Open Land (roughly the London equivalent of green belt with similar protections).

As I should have thought Mr Blackman would have known - as a former Brent councillor and local MP - the part of Northwick Park owned by the Swaminaryans is locally known as The Ducker. The Ducker is the site of the old Harrow School open air swimming pool, acquired from the school well over 30 years ago. It was, I believe, purchased in the hope it might be a site for a temple . However, planning consent for that was not granted; the process rejecting the application involved a public planning inquiry.

I believe there was a later attempt to have the site reclassified for housing or hotel use under a Brent Local plan inquiry; the Local Plan inspector did not permit that either.

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If there is any intention to raise the issue of development on that site again, perhaps the owners (and indeed Mr Blackman and the relevant minister) might like to have a chat with Harrow School. Their own long-planned and major sports building development on Metropolitan Open Land a few stone-throws across the Watford Road from the Ducker site was rejected in January 2018 by the Mayor of London - because it was inappropriate development.

Any application would doubtless meet the same levels of opposition.

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