The Co-op Intends To Deny The Local Community.
Save Oakfield has received a recent press release from Rugby Borough Council about plans to dismantle Oakfield play area and return this much loved Recreation Ground to its owner, the Heart of England Co-op.
This follows a two-year planning application battle to build 50 houses, that was unanimously rejected by the Council’s Planning Committee in March 2016. Following its defeat, the Co-op threatened to fence off the site. It had claimed that it was not able to provide public liability insurance.
In contrast, the Council leader, Michael Stokes, has advised Save Oakfield that the Council has an over-arching insurance policy that covers all of the Council’s public spaces, including Oakfield Recreation Ground. Despite repeated offers to buy the land, the Co-op has declined to negotiate.
Spokes person for Save Oakfield, Richard Joy said “Having seen how the Co-op has fought this planning application, bringing their community values and ethics into question, we are not surprised by their very selfish and destructive attitude, to deny the residents of Rugby this much loved and protected Amenity Green Space, registered as an asset of Community Value on the Council’s local register”.
Save Oakfield campaigner, Peter Crawford added “We have fought the hearts and minds battle with & for the people of Rugby, and whilst we were victorious in defeating this application, we understand Council leader, Michael Stokes, has followed through on his word to challenge this closure using all legal means possible, The Co-op have right to ask the Council to vacate the land and now have done so, we find this action by the Co-op utterly despicable and underhand, and would ask that they examine their conscience and reconsider.”
Since 1962, the Co-op has tried to develop Oakfield Rec four times, and has been rejected repeatedly; even at Appeal in 1975.
Save Oakfield campaigner, Michael O’Meara added “What court in the land would allow the willful degradation of a piece of land that has no chance of building development, and is listed as protected open space within the Council planning policy LR4 Protecting Open Spaces. There is no sound reason as to why the Co-op should take this action, as is their right, they can appeal against the planning decision, this being the due process. Our local MP, Mark Pawsey has been very vocal in support of this community green space and we will be looking to him to step up and take whatever actions are necessary to challenge this latest saga.”
In January this year the Co-op was prepared to invest in the play area at Oakfield. Their development proposal, Open Space Report item 4.3 originally said…
“The submitted proposals include the upgrading of the existing equipped children’s play area in the north east corner of the site. These proposals include the replacement of the existing play equipment and safety surfaces”.
Richard Joy commented, “I really hope they reconsider this course of action to deny the local community this valued open space. They have no chance of building on this land and it doesn’t make sense to deny the Council its long-standing lease. I urge them to consider the greater good for the well-being of local residents.”