Oakfield Park safe for now as developer withdraws appeal - The Rugby Observer

Oakfield Park safe for now as developer withdraws appeal

Andy Morris 24th Sep, 2019 Updated: 25th Sep, 2019   0

OAKFIELD Park is safe – for now – after the developer behind a rejected plan to build a retirement village there withdrew its appeal against the decision.

At a Town Hall hearing on Tuesday (September 24), McCarthy & Stone stood down its appeal over the refusal of its 62-apartment, 14-bungalow extra care retirement village earmarked for the Bilton Road park – which was originally rejected in by Rugby Borough Council (RBC) in December because it would ‘result in the loss of a substantial area of designated open space’.

The developers withdrew their appeal when their request to adjourn the case until January – to allow a recently-submitted smaller application for just 62 apartments to run its course – was denied.

A spokesman for campaign group Save Oakfield said it was a massive relief.

Richard Joy said: “We’ve fought off two appeals now, and proposals with a sense of compromise are being submitted which is at odds to the last five years. It feels as though some progress is finally being made.

“The revised application would free up a hectare of land for public use once more so there would be a sensibly-sized field as well as a playground.

“We still think this particular compromise isn’t the right one. They ought to build along the east side of the site near the bowling club and Co-op Funeralcare so the field remains truly accessible.”

He said the group was meeting with McCarthy & Stone on Friday (September 27) to discuss what the developers could do to minimise objections to the new application.

“Ultimately, it will come down to the residents to object or otherwise. I think it will divide the community into people who object to any kind of building on the site, and others who just want to have a sensible plot back.”

The developers’ revised plan would leave 59 per cent of the park as public open space, which would be offered to Rugby Borough Council.

McCarthy & Stone regional managing director Martin Edwards said: “We had hoped our revised plans could be considered as part of the Appeal process.

“However, this was not allowed, and following consultation and agreement with the Council and Save Oakfield, it was decided the best way forward was to withdraw from the Appeal process because all parties were receptive to our amended scheme.

“We hope to work with RBC, Save Oakfield and residents about our revised plans.”

The new application, which is in its early stages and not yet publicly available, will be determined by RBC by January 8.

Earlier this month, a planning court rejected the developer’s argument that RBC had an excessive allocation of open spaces in its Local Plan.

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.

The Park was leased to the council for around 30 years, but the lease expired in 2013 and the Co-Op declined to extend it.

The Co-op has thus far ignored repeated requests from RBC to negotiate the sale of the park.


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