Latest plan for Oakfield Park 'an insult' say campaigners - The Rugby Observer

Latest plan for Oakfield Park 'an insult' say campaigners

Andy Morris 26th Nov, 2017   0

‘AN INSULT’ – that was the verdict of campaigners trying to save Oakfield Park, following a public exhibition for a plan to build a retirement village on the fenced-off recreation ground.

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy and Stone wants to build an Extra Care retirement village, including bungalows, while leaving part of the Bilton Road site as public open space.

But members of the Save Oakfield group claimed the plans could threaten green spaces across the whole borough.

Spokesman Richard Joy said McCarthy and Stone’s planning consultant would challenge the standards for Rugby’s green spaces in order to get the plans approved.




He said: “The consultant assured us that Rugby has too much green space. McCarthy and Stone have employed someone who will be campaigning for a reduction in green space across the entire borough.

“This should set alarm bells ringing for the whole of the Rugby community. This is no longer a New Bilton issue but one that could affect anybody living within the borough.”


He also criticised the amount of public space being retained under the plans – the north-east corner and a strip of land down the eastern edge of the park.

“The quantity of amenity space offered is an insult,” he said. “It could be better described as a corridor, similar to that which you might expect along a disused railway line.

“This is an impoverished area of Rugby, and these proposals do nothing for the well-being of those that live here.”

Plans reveal the north-east corner and a strip of land down the eastern edge of the park would be retained as public space – “an insult,” according to Save Oakfield spokesman Richard Joy. (s)

The park was fenced off by its owners, the Heart of England Cooperative Society, after its plan to build 50 new homes there was rejected by Rugby Borough Council (RBC) last year on the grounds it should remain a community park.

But despite withdrawing its appeal against that refusal in April this year, the Co-op has continued to market the site for development.

RBC has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the park as a public open space.

Council leader Coun Michael Stokes said: “A planning application was refused by this council, the principal ground for refusal being the unjustified loss of public open space.

“Any proposal to develop the site would require a clear and compelling justification in line with national and local planning policies. To date, such a justification has not been forthcoming and any application that fails to meet this test is likely to be refused.

“The Co-op is the only organisation that can bring an end to this ridiculous saga.

“Oakfield Recreation Ground has been a recreation ground for as long as anyone can remember and is not, as implied by the recent planning exhibition, ‘brown field’ or industrial land.

“Once again I urge the Co-op to put the interests of the community first. They can restore their standing in the community and dispose of an asset they have no interest in by accepting our offer to buy the land at its current market value.”

Martin Edwards, Deputy Regional Managing Director at McCarthy and Stone, said: “The feedback and comments we receive will be fully considered before our plans are finalised.

“Our plans offer an opportunity to improve local housing choices, delivering specialist Extra Care accommodation for older homeowners seeking the reassurance of access to additional care and support to make life that little bit easier.”

The plans, still at an initial design stage, have not yet been submitted to RBC. Mr Joy said McCarthy and Stone indicated they would submit an application in December.

A public consultation runs until November 29. Visit www.mccarthyandstoneconsultation.co.uk/rugby to view and comment on the plans.

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