Pinner Park farmers face uncertainty over future

Father and son Michael and John O'Hara

Father and son Michael and John O'Hara

First published in News
Last updated
Harrow Times: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A family running a prize-winning farm that could be sold to make way for housing and a country park say they want to invest in the site.

Father and son Michael and John O'Hara have been running the Hall and Son farming business at Pinner Park Farm for ten years.

The 230-acre site is owned by Harrow Borough Council, which has recently consulted on options for the site including the redevelopment of barns for housing and the creation of a country park.

However the proposals do not include any farming on the site.

Speaking to the Harrow Times, John O'Hara said: "I think the message we want to get out to people is that this is a working farm and we want to stay here and invest in the farm.

"That includes all the buildings on the site and we are all for opening up the area more to the public.

"We are willing to work with anyone to stay here and make this work. We just want to have a dialogue about the farm's future, but we just haven't had that yet.

"The whole reason we are here in the first place is for the farm and we have already invested a huge amount in the site.

"What may surprise people is that we have a working farm in London with bulls winning prizes in national competitions."

In recent years the family have spent tens of thousands on a new barn for their cattle herd, which has nearly 100 cows.

Several years ago the family drew up plans to create a community garden on the farm, that would be open to the public and schools.

John said: "We have plans for the site, but we haven't been able to act on them. There's so much we want to do here but we haven't had the chance because we have been in limbo about our future here.

"We would be absolutely devastated if we had to leave. But we have been really touched and heartened by the support we have received from the members of the public."

The consultation on proposals has now finished and the council says it will draw up a master plan based on public feedback, and hold a second consultation based on the revised proposals later this year.

Comments (1)

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11:16am Tue 29 Jul 14

pinns35 says...

I still can't understand (or get reasonable answers) why the council want to stop farming on this land. I suspect the answers are around.

Cost,

the maintenance of the grade 2 listed farmhouse and barns are the landlord's responsibility and they require a lot of renovation. The two options include selling the buildings to developers to convert into residential use, thus getting rid of the cost and generating the money to develop the park.

Understanding,

I suspect that, Harrow being an urban authority, there is nobody employed or elected that has any understanding of farming and the council want a “change of use” to something that they do understand.

Hassle,

exacerbating the above is the cost of council officer time in managing the lease, I understand that there has been a long drawn out “battle” over the last rent review.

The indication is that the relationship between landlord and leaseholder has broken down and is unlikely to be “fixed” by a long drawn out legal battle, or an effective campaign to keep the O'Hara's on the farm.

There are 9 councillors with wards that either cover the area of the farm, or are adjacent to it. Perhaps they can tell us what their local residents are saying, and what answers the council officers are giving to the above, particularly why they want to get rid of the farm? (I believe that council officers are obligated to answer questions from local councillors)

Bill Phillips
Headstone North Resident
I still can't understand (or get reasonable answers) why the council want to stop farming on this land. I suspect the answers are around. Cost, the maintenance of the grade 2 listed farmhouse and barns are the landlord's responsibility and they require a lot of renovation. The two options include selling the buildings to developers to convert into residential use, thus getting rid of the cost and generating the money to develop the park. Understanding, I suspect that, Harrow being an urban authority, there is nobody employed or elected that has any understanding of farming and the council want a “change of use” to something that they do understand. Hassle, exacerbating the above is the cost of council officer time in managing the lease, I understand that there has been a long drawn out “battle” over the last rent review. The indication is that the relationship between landlord and leaseholder has broken down and is unlikely to be “fixed” by a long drawn out legal battle, or an effective campaign to keep the O'Hara's on the farm. There are 9 councillors with wards that either cover the area of the farm, or are adjacent to it. Perhaps they can tell us what their local residents are saying, and what answers the council officers are giving to the above, particularly why they want to get rid of the farm? (I believe that council officers are obligated to answer questions from local councillors) Bill Phillips Headstone North Resident pinns35
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