Council’s war on open spaces

Council plans to sell off or build on green spaces in the county are once again hitting the headlines.

In Ledbury there have been fears of a new housing development on the town’s cricket and football pitches off New Street for some time. There are currently major plans to build 800 new homes in the town, most of which will be around the Viaduct to its north. However, there are fears that public spending cuts may force the council to sell off the cricket and football pitches, leaving them to the mercy of developers.

A meeting has been called in Ledbury for Monday 24th January to discuss the town’s lack of parks, and the possible development of the town’s cricket and football pitches. It will be held at the Burgage Hall at 7pm.

Meanwhile, Herefordshire Council has admitted that discussions are underway regarding the sale of the Bishop of Hereford’s Blue Coat School’s playing fields. It is believed an offer has been put in for the site, which could be used to build more houses.

The playing fields are currently used by the school for many sporting activities and also by Herefordians Cricket Club, which plays its Marches League matches on the site. John Escott, a sports teacher at the school for 31 years, has said the plans would ’cause outrage’ if they were to go ahead.

Residents living in Newton Farm have also been dealt a blow in their battle to save a patch of open land near Argyll Rise from development. The near 5-year campaign of the Newton Farm Town Green Action Group to get the area registered as a town green and therefore protected, was dismissed by the council’s regulatory committee last week.

Martin Gilleland from the action group said that the ruling ‘adds to the distrust that communities have with local politics.’ Herefordshire Housing, the landowner, said that it may be some time before the land is built on, but certainly didn’t rule it out.

It is clear that Herefordshire Council’s commitment to protecting green, public spaces and school playing fields is a secondary matter when faced with the prospect of money from property developers. It also shows that all kinds of community resources are being hit as a result of government public spending cuts. We must defend our open spaces, sports fields and school playing fields, which are currently in place for the benefit of everybody!

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