Fenced-off Rugby park could reopen after owners abandon housing appeal - The Rugby Observer

Fenced-off Rugby park could reopen after owners abandon housing appeal

Andy Morris 5th Apr, 2017   0

THE PUBLIC could yet be allowed back on to a popular park which has been fenced off for nine months, after the owners withdrew from an appeal against the rejection of their housing plans.

The Co-Operative Society, which owns Oakfield Park, wanted to use the Bilton Road site to build 50 new homes after cancelling Rugby Borough Council’s (RBC) lease on the field in 2015 – but their planning application was refused by the council in March last year.

The Co-Op then prompted a public outcry by fencing off the park and launching an appeal against the decision.

But campaigners hope the fence may come down after the Co-Op withdrew from the appeal process on the claim there was insufficient time to resolve planning issues with RBC.

A Co-Op spokesperson said: “This decision has been based on the extensive advice we have taken and follows a lengthy consultation period.

“With this in mind it is our intention to revise and resubmit our application in the coming weeks.”

The Observer understands the revised application may be smaller, thus preserving some of the park for public use.

Save Oakfield spokesperson Richard Joy said it was great news for the community.

He said: “The Heart of England Co-operative has conceded that the application to build 50 dwellings on Oakfield is finished, and it’s a testament to all of the hard work that has gone into fighting it from the New Bilton community.

“However, we remain apprehensive of what a subsequent planning application will look like and the extent to which the local community will be involved in pre-application discussions.”

He added the local community had been forced to raise funds to employ a planning consultant due to the actions of the Co-Op.

“The Co-op says it’s at the heart of the community but it has truly messed this community about, causing unnecessary stress and now causing individuals to be out of pocket for no good reason.”

Fellow campaigner Mark Norton added: “If the Co-Op chooses to submit another planning application, it is choosing to do more damage to its reputation as a business with ethics. Given its own mission statement, the Co-op should surely be pursuing the aim of supporting the local community rather than fighting it.

“They should do the right thing and enter into negotiations with Rugby Borough Council to secure the future of Oakfield for public use.”


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