Controversy Over Acton Playing Fields Planning Application

As Ealing Council Leader's wife gives her support to private sports club

The current North Acton pavilion
The current North Acton pavilion. Picture: Google Streetview

Sign up for our Acton newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Concerns have been raised over the apparent ringing endorsement of controversial plans for North Acton Playing Fields by the wife of Ealing's Council Leader.

Proposals have been submitted for a private
sports club (Samurai) to extend at the local park.

The Japanese sponsored club based at Noel Road lease the community sports facility in North Acton Playing Fields offering football and tennis.

They now want ''to convert and extend the existing grass football pitch to the north of the tennis courts into a new '3G' floodlit football pitch plus provide a new '3G' floodlit Multi-Use Games Area to the west of the existing tennis courts and associated reinstatement of part of the existing artificial grass playing surface back to grass. A new changing pavilion and kiosk would be built to the west of Park Lodge in the approximate position of the former garage/storage building the cricket pitch would be relocated to accommodate this structure.''

There have been a hundreds of objections from many local residents who don't believe public land should be impinged upon in this way. Sport England has also sent a number of questions to Ealing planning department regarding the application and has submitted a 'holding objection'.

They say: '' Should the local planning authority be minded to grant planning permission for the proposal, contrary to Sport England's holding objection, then in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, the application should be referred to the Secretary of State, via the National Planning Casework Unit.

A meeting is planned by the club on the 10 April at Park Lodge on Noel Road to discuss the concerns.


In the leaflet which has recently been sent out, the club responded to suggestions of inadequate consultation by saying, ''we sincerely regret not involving you sooner and are eager to listen to your views and answer any questions you may have about the development of the facilities at North Acton Playing Fields.''

Within the flyer however locals were shocked to see a supportive quote from Hermia Bell - the wife of Council Leader Julian Bell who is reportedly a ''staunch supporter of Football Samurai Academy in the park.''

Newsletter issued with Hermia Bell pictured

It reads, ''Mr Bell and I have been very appreciative of living in this serene local area over the past 30 years and bringing up our 4 girls here. I like seeing the enthusiasm of the Japanese people and the examples they set for their children in promoting family and supporting the local community. Japanese people have made the facility more enticing and comfortable. They are respectful and have great humility which has been a great asset to the community and has given encouragement to the locals here. It is important for the community to work together to involve local children from the area to participate in Samurai activities. We can go from strength to strength with the Japanese Community.''

Locals are shocked and say it brings into question the council's whole planning process.

Libby Kemp says, ''We strongly feel that the leader of the Council should not be associated with either side of the debate. It would not be quite so bad if this was signed by "Hermia Bell" in her personal capacity, but the express mention of her husband and his position is clearly intended to at least suggest that he (or perhaps even the Council) is also supportive, which is wholly inappropriate.  How can the independence of the planning process be assured?!?''

A spokesperson from Cllr Bell's office said:

'' Mrs Bell gave a general endorsement of the work that Samurai Football does in the local community and was not aware that it would be used on a leaflet about the proposed development in the playing fields. Cllr Bell will not be involved in making decisions on the planning application, and has written to local residents making clear that these decisions will be made by the planning committee through the normal procedures and that this is not a ‘fait accompli’. He is encouraging local residents to make their views known, whatever they are, via Ealing’s planning portal.

The planning application reference is 185913FUL. Documentation can be viewed here.

We have requested comment from Samurai.


5 April 2019


Bookmark and Share