Oakfield Park development approved - half of field to reopen to public after four years behind fence - The Rugby Observer

Oakfield Park development approved - half of field to reopen to public after four years behind fence

Rugby Editorial 5th Feb, 2020 Updated: 5th Feb, 2020   0

DEVELOPERS have finally been given permission to build on Oakfield Park – but just over half of the field will be reopened to the public, nearly four years after it was fenced off by its owners.

A scaled-down version of developer McCarthy & Stone’s extra care retirement village – which was refused planning permission by Rugby Borough Council in 2018 due to loss of open space – has tonight (Wednesday February 5) been approved by councillors.

The developers will build 62 care apartments, omitting 14 bungalows from the original plan and handing 51 per cent of the Bilton Road park back to the council free of charge.

Oakfield Park, prior to being fenced off in 2016 (top), and how it will look now that the latest planning application has been approved (bottom, artist’s impression).

McCarthy & Stone will fund a number of schemes to compensate for the loss of open space, including a new children’s playground and goalposts at Oakfield, new football pitches at Whinfield Recreation Ground, and enhancements to Caldecott Park.

A planning officers’ report stated the benefits of the development would outweigh its adverse impacts.

Oakfield Park’s owners the Heart of England Co-operative Society fenced it off from the public in 2016 after its plan to build 50 new homes there was rejected by RBC, declining to extend the council’s lease which had stood for 30 years.

A spokesman for campaign group Save Oakfield said the application was an improvement on other proposals over the last five years, but approving it was the ‘wrong decision’.

Richard Joy said: “We are not rubbing our hands with glee. We like the extra green space, but not the negative impact the building will have on local families.

“What McCarthy & Stone describe as ‘repairing the frontage of Bilton Road’ we see as the wanton destruction of the same stretch with such an enormous building.

“It’s a clear breach of the privacy of the properties opposite, which will also be cast into shadow in the summer.”

He added residents will still lose out because half of their field will be gone.

“While we are pleased the council has negotiated concessions and contributions, we recognise very few of them make up for the loss in an area seriously lacking in open spaces,” he said.

A McCarthy & Stone spokesperson said the development will provide economic, social and environmental benefits.

They said: “The proposal is the best solution to meet demand for extra care accommodation in the growing community.

“It will deliver much needed employment on a site which is currently vacant, with no public access.

“In addition to the enhanced access to public open space, there will be improved on-site children’s play facilities.”


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