This inspirational project has not only dramatically improved this derelict site but it has lifted the morale of the whole local community in the campaign against the third runway and in planning a sustainable future for our area. We cannot lose this initiative and I will do all I can to enable it to continue.
John McDonnell, MP
“Grow Heathrow is about a living, sustainable, community based future. We should be enabling projects like this not closing them down. Growing food, cooking it and eating together is the glue that has held societies together – we need a lot more of it, not less.”
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Lib-Dem Member of the House of Lords)
There is evidence to show that crime has reduced since the GROW HEATHROW GROUP has occupied the neglected BERKLEY NURSERIES. Possibly the presence of the group acts as a deterrent for crime in the surrounding area. Positive feed back has been received from local residents regarding the GROW HEATHROW GROUP and that the local residents feel safer knowing that there are people staying there.
The evidence shows a reduction in motor vehicle crime in the area by 50 % and a general reduction in crime of 25 %.
Daljinder Bassi, Safer Neighbourhood Team, Heathrow Villages, Metropolitan Police Hillingdon
We have always found Transition Heathrow to be an exceptionally well run and community focused action group. The site in Sipson plays host to a wide range of free activities for residents, which are sorely needed after the community was effectively decimated by the threat of the 3rd runway. Low property prices and the threat of expansion forced many residents out and kept newcomers away, which has turned the village into a near ghost town. Transition Heathrow brighten the area and educate and inspire its people. With a public art project funded by the council currently in production and 2 years of successful collaboration at the Hayes Carnival, for which the group provided carbon neutral activities to raise awareness of environmental issues in a most engaging style, reaching audiences of 15,000 and 12,000, as a council officer I have nothing but respect for this group and I very much hope their excellent work will be able to continue.
Charlotte Baldwin, Arts Programming Officer, London Borough of Hillingdon
‘Grow Heathrow’ has proven to be a great centre for both the local community and those who wish to get involved with the wider environmental movement. Evicting this group from their site, which has achieved so many great things, including helping to stop a third runway at Heathrow, would plainly be wrong. I very much hope that their excellent work with the local community and protecting the environment is able to continue past November.
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Transition Heathrow have worked hard to turn a derelict site into a feasible project with the support and also supporting the local community. It would be morally wrong to close it down.
Pam Osborne, No Third Runway Action Group (NOTRAG)
The site at Vineries Close Sipson has been a major problem for some years. As a committee member of the Harmondsworth and Sipson residents Association, I have had to deal with continuing problems on this site. The owners used it for car breakage, storage and maintenance in violation of planning laws. The site became seriously polluted and the continuing high noise levels reduced the quality of life for local residents.
After long disputes with the council the owners stopped using the site.
The Transition Heathrow group moved onto the site and worked tirelessly, with full local support, to clean up the site and to restore it to agricultural use. Many tons of polluted rubbish was removed.
During this time the Transition team have become much loved and respected members of the community and have the full support of the local residents.
It would be a tragedy if the owners gained control of the site, profiting from the hard work of the Transition team and continued with their previous illegal activities.
If the present owners reprocess the site, there must be strict conditions imposed with regard to violations of planning and environmental health laws. A formal tenancy agreement for Transition Heathrow would be a better way forward and this is the result that local residents would wish to see.
Alan Boyd, Local resident
In our view the key fact is this: the local people overwhelmingly support Transition Heathrow. They recognise that it has turned what was a problematic piece of land into one that has become a key focal point for many in the community.
Sarah Clayton, Airport Watch
Transition Heathrow has made a huge contribution to the local community. The prospect of a third runway meant the community had lived with the threat of extinction for the best part of a decade. It was blighted. Transition Heathrow brought vitality into a depressed community. Rarely has a piece of land been used so creatively to the benefit of local people.
John Stewart, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN)
Transition Heathrow is an icon of how to build alternatives for communities across the world. For people living with the daily assault of pollution, poverty and the other consequences of the greed of the aviation industry – still the fastest growing cause of global CO2 emissions. For young, old, black, white, religious, aethiest and many more, Transition Heathrow is a home away from home. In the age of massive cuts to public services we have to look to ourselves to feed our basic needs of food, water, health systems and a community spirit. I cant think of a better British example of building community spirit today. Transition Heathrow is a place to be embraced and delved into, a gateway to discovering what it means to crawl out of the aviation industry’s ashes and to build life, hope and strong resilient communities. Long Live Transition Heathrow.
Dan Glass, Plane Stupid
I found the site in late March of this year and I have seen wonders at Grow Heathrow which has brought the community much closer than it has ever been. So I would like to see much more done on the land for the local community and I would definetly not like to see it go!
Raj Kumar, Airport worker
We are a community food enterprise in Waltham Forest with a 12 acre growing site. As well as distributing food locally, we provide volunteering opportunities, sell vegetable plants to encourage food growing and provide training to people across London who want to find out more about growing their own food.
For us it is really important to be part of the community, to create volunteer and work opportunities in food growing and also explain the importance of growing and eating organic food. We have worked closely with members of the Grow Heathrow project in training and networking sessions and we know that they share this aim.
We enjoy significant support from Waltham Forest council, one of many local authorities which are now recognising the importance of urban food production. In a recent statement, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet member for Environment, Cllr Clyde Loakes, said: “I am delighted the Council has been able to support Organiclea by offering them the lease of this site and help boost food production in our borough.
“There are hundreds of acres of land dotted around London which could be used to produce food and I’d urge Councils to see what they could do to help community schemes like Organiclea get up and running.”
We believe that in an era when we are aware of climate change and the benefit of urban food growing in reducing carbon emissions; of the health and social benefits of physical outdoor activity, and of the importance of urban green spaces to local communities, it is a huge mistake for an existing successful project to have its land taken away.
We urge an alternative solution to be found that will allow the site to stay intact and allow its community benefits to continue.
Marlene Barrett, Organiclea Community Growers
I would to like to say a big THANK YOU to all the young people for what they have done to help in the “NO THIRD RUNWAY” campaign and what you have done to the old Berkeley Nursery site. The time it must have taken you to clear up the rubbish and glass, WELL done to you all..And once again THANK YOU!!!!!!
Brian Spink, Local resident
As a network of community food growing projects, we deplore the attempts to evict Grow Heathrow. Community food growing projects hold so many of the answers to the big challenges posed by the mounting economic, environmental, social and health crises. Grow Heathrow are a good example of a group of citizens taking initiative to create social and environmental value, with very limited resources. They merely need space, and time. We support their proposal to set up a community land trust.
The Community Food Growers Network
Grow Heathrow have brought the area back into productive use, providing a space where people of all ages from across the community can meet, get outdoors and learn new skills. They run regular community activities and events. This has made a very significant contribution to community life in Sipson and Harmondsworth at an exceptionally challenging time. I very much hope that they and the owners of the land can come to a mutually acceptable solution, even at this late stage.
Kate Birch, Heathrow Villages Community Development Officer
Transition Heathrow have been a fantastic group to work with. The group regularly come and help out at our allotment, increasing the size and productivity of the plots. They have also been involved in our Fun Day providing fun and educational activities for families, free of charge and with a smile on their faces. They are a great asset to the community and we enjoy having them in our centre and the work they do for the community in Sipson and West Drayton.
David Graham, Community Development Officer, The Com.Cafe
These youngsters have worked so hard to transform this place in to something that is very beneficial to our village. It would be a sin to let those horrible people back with their dirt and filth. It was a very dangerous place to be for children. Please do not allow this.
Mr & Mrs P Rumble, Local residents
We lived in Sipson 25 years until recently and saw the Berkeley nursery site become an unwanted mess and area of trouble for local residents until the Grow Heathrow members took over. Since then it has been a secure site and a safer area for the local villagers. We hope they are allowed to stay as they have support from us and all the local people we know they are a great asset to the local community.
James and Maxine Payne, Local residents
I was very surprised to read the mail of Linda regarding the recent court order. The previous owners cannot be trusted and did a lot of illegal business on the green belt land. The present young ones at the nursery have worked hard and cleared a lot of rubbish and have been good neighbours. Hope LBH would fight for Transition Heathrow all the way and purchase the land for Sipson Community residents. Residents of Vineries Close send their best wishes to the nursery and hope all goes well for the young ones and Sipson Community.
Kersee Printer, Local resident
Grow Heathrow is a great example of how an interested party of dedicated individuals has really made a difference in a devastated community, in this instance from the decade by decade expansion of Heathrow airport. It is groups of similar young people that will be the driving force behind the new government’s ‘Big Society’ idea- as it is only they that will have the drive to try such difficult projects out. Who else would have spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning such a toxic tip as the site in Sipson- when the locals had had so much trouble with it and council had washed their hands of it. They should be given a medal and the site compulsory purchased on their behalf by the local borough.
I sincerely wish the Grow Heathrow project well in their bid against eviction- as a shining light of what can be done with lots of vision and very little money.
Stefan Geyer, Trustee Permaculture Association, Treasurer London Permaculture Network, Fellow RSA
Grow Heathrow is first and foremost, a wonderful place to be. It’s a real place that welcomes anyone who comes in and finds them something to do with their hands and their mind. It clearly has value for many of the people of Sipson and the surrounding area, as a place they feels theirs. There are precious few community spaces in the peri-urban villages of the Uk, and few as beautiful and engaging as this one.
I’ve only visited the site twice but I see the ripples from it all the time, wherever I go I am reminded of it I hold it up as an example to others of how we can create places of learning ,of practical action, of friendship and imagination. The project has succeeded due to the generosity and vision of a handful of people who have worked harder than even I know to make it happen. It’s unique, and it’s inspiring. It needs to remain to inspire many more people to get their hands dirty and dig in for the future.
Gloria, Visitor at Grow Heathrow
I recently heard a member of Grow Heathrow speak about their project. One thing they said stuck with me. It was that they were fed-up of saying no – no planes, no coal-fire powered stations – and now they wanted to say yes. That idea is still with me, just as the thought that it is better to ask a child to ‘hold your spoon this way’ rather than telling them ‘don’t hold your spoon like that’. Climate change is destructive – there is nothing redemptive about it. It is something that threatens us all. What Transition Heathrow are doing is being creative in the face of this destruction. This is not a ‘No’ project, it is a community who are doing one of the most life affirming things we can do – they are growing things. Alongside fruit and veg they are growing a community, friendships and much more.
We have all become alienated from this essential thing; food. What does it means to grow it or how does food taste when it has just been picked? I only discovered this recently myself. The answer is that it is delicious, filling and rewarding. Food security is a political issue which currently effects a large number of the world’s population. Ironically, here in the UK, we are depleting the soil of other nations by relying on cheap flown-in food when we could grow it ourselves.
Grow Heathrow is leading the way for many who, fed-up with saying no, want to do something positive for our world and community.
Hayley Newman, Artist
The previous occupants of this site were entirely selfish and showed no concern for the local environment whatsoever. By contrast Transition Heathrow have made a real effort to improve the site. We all know that Sipson has become run down in recent years because of the threat of the third runway. It would be entirely perverse for people who have tried to make a positive difference to the village to be now evicted from this land. For the sake of the revival of Sipson I sincerely hope that Transition Heathrow be allowed to remain.
Dave Robins, Local resident
I work as a community gardener and know the huge impact that getting involved in growing things has on people – giving a sense of well-being and satisfaction, bringing together people from all different backgrounds and experiences on a level playing field, helping connect people with what they eat and their wider environment as well as creating beautiful green spaces which are becoming increasingly rarer. Please don’t lose this garden and all the benefits it brings.
Heather Stabler, Community Gardener
The potential eviction of Grow Heathrow provides evidence of unjust actions, aimed against a moral campaign to keep land and community together. I have witnessed first hand the work being done down in Sipson by some fine human beings- these actions against them are actions against beautiful morals and amazing intents on their part.
Natasha Whiffin, Photographer
Hillingdon Friends of the Earth has visited Grow Heathrow three times now and has nothing but praise and admiration for all that has been achieved by this group of dedicated and very hard-working people
We know how much the threat of an expansion at Heathrow had left the local communities dispirited and broken. Transition Heathrow is helping bring people together again in so many ways – restoring the derelict and abused Grow Heathrow nursery to the productive and attractive place that it now is. It has become a focal point for the community through initiatives such as a gardening club, bicycle repair workshop, art projects and special activities for all ages. Grow Heathrow works enthusiastically with the local organisations and residents and, in return, enjoys their support.
Hillingdon Friends of the Earth has been very pleased to support Grow Heathrow and made a donation to them towards seeds and equipment needed for this year’s growing season. We hope they will be at the nursery for years to come to continue the great work they have started and to fulfil their vision for a sustainable future for the Heathrow villages. We urge the Court to make this possible and not to evict Transition Heathrow from their Sipson home. The chance that the previous illegal activities at the nursery might resume if Transition Heathrow has to leave is unthinkable and would be a devastating blow to the local community.
Hillingdon Friends of the Earth
Projects such as Grow Heathrow are not just inspirational, they are essential. Anyone paying attention knows the precarious nature of our food systems and the urgent need to re localise food production. Grow Heathrow should be supported and held up as an example of best practice, not evicted for doing such important work.
Josef Davies-Coates, Founder, United Diversity
I work at Heathrow and believe transition is crucial. I fully support all initiatives to combat the threats of oil and climate change. The best we can do is to work as local communities.
Justin Nailard, Airport worker
There have been many advantages to the project so far and these bear looking at before a decision is made to evict the project. The community has benefited as the project has brought people of all ages together and raised awareness of the issues of land development.
The Grow Heathrow team have raised awareness locally about the vulnerability of this area as a development site and have shown by example that undeveloped sites can be cleared and put to use to grow food.
I am impressed that a group of young people can not only develop their skills by learning from professional growers, and that they continue to include and involve the local community by hosting banquets and promoting workshops on food growing. Inspiration and vigor and enthusiasm such as this is rarely encountered in government organised projects and frankly any enterprise that is led from the ground up by dedicated individuals is to be applauded and encouraged. These young people are showing us how to take responsibility for our environment by clearing and tending the land rather than let it sit empty.
Dianna Harvey-Kummer, Family member
We visited the site in Sipson on many occasions which was overgrown and derelict when Grow Heathrow took over. They have done a wonderful job removing all the rubbish and developing it to enable them to grow home produce. It is a pleasure to visit the site now and it would be a shame to lose them from the village. They have visited our home on numerous occasions and it has been a pleasure.
Jerry & Pat Healy, Local residents
The land occupied by Transition Heathrow has been cleared by themselves with the support of the local community and others. It has shown that it can be a workable market garden and resource for the community and environment. They should be able to continue their work for the benefit of all.
Karen William, Local resident
It seems amazing that the authorities can allow land to be neglected and ruined and take no action and yet when somebody attempts to return the land to a useable and productive state it is deemed illegal and it should be stopped. 44 years ago I used to ride my tricycle through these very greenhouses and watched as my father and his employees tended the tomatoes and other fruits. Since the farm was closed in 1967 the land has been left to go derelict and over the following years when we visited my grandmother who lived at Inglenook (now buffer bears) we watched the steady decline. Now seeing the photographs which Transition Heathrow have posted on the internet I have nothing but praise and admiration for what they have done and only wish I could have been a part of it. As for the authorities it seems all they are interested in is “jobsworth”.
Chris Wild, Former resident
Grow Heathrow is a brilliant example of how we should live and work together. It has been spearheaded by a group of practical, dedicated and intelligent people who have built bridges of hope and regeneration into a demoralised and persecuted community. It is a community-based initiative that has sound socially-minded principles at its heart. It uses an inclusive, cohesive, cooperative, egalitarian and collective approach for the benefit of all. Rather than being persecuted it should be rewarded for its work and held up as a model for all of us to adapt in our own communities. I came away from my visit a happier and more hopeful person about our future society. Thanks Grow Heathrow!
Frances Singer, Steering Group – Transition Kentish Town
Grow Heathrow are literally a breath of fresh air. Their community spirit has revitalised a blighted area and given the local community a green hub with activities for young and old alike. Grow Heathrow have restored the area’s last surviving market garden, part of Heathrow’s rich heritage as arable land. Handing it to people with no interest in it or the community, other than a dumping ground, would be a grave miscarriage of justice.
Ian Hare, Freelance Journalist
For years there has been incremental degradation of the green belt to the north of Heathrow with the law preventing the Council from compelling our green belt be reinstated for the use it had previously namely agriculture. Well Garden Farm was a prime example of an absentee landlord enabling unplanned use of the site for the storage of cars.
Our experience has been that green belt was purchased then used as a dump until in the end the residents were begging for development to be allowed so as to see a tidier environment. This has been common practice for years and I support any action that thwarts these developmental vandals.
We need to be alert to the Government’s plans to remove land from the green belt to enable more industrial development especially when Hillingdon is sitting on vast stocks of unoccupied office buildings.
Transition Heathrow is the light at the end of the tunnel that has at last defeated the third runway and Terminal 6 aspirations of BAA and now seeks to return our environment to more useful and practical uses.
We need more of our food to be grown locally. We need our food miles to be reduced and we need our air quality to be improved. All of these issue are interlinked and we need to support Transition Heathrow in their aim to bring these issues to our attention.
Graham Tomlin, Local Credit Union in Hayes
I had the incredible experience of staying at Grow Heathrow for part of my summer during a study abroad in the UK. I never knew something like this was possible and from stepping first on the property I knew that something special was here. After seeing how TRASHY and DISGUSTING the property was when under the care of the owner, I fully support all the amazing and wonderful improvements that Grow Heathrow and the dedicated local communities have done to create one of the most inspiring looks into what the future could be like. Delicious vegetables, wonderful people, an amazing cause. Save Grow Heathrow!
Justinian Dispenza, The Activist Society, Bloomington Indiana, USA
I was incredibly impressed by the work and dedication of the squatters here. They’ve transformed a derelict wasteland into a productive and thriving community space … I don’t feel that sorry for the bloke who owns the property.
You could call it a squat-topia.
The heart of the village