Campaigners welcome Rugby council’s formal offer to buy Oakfield Rec

Campaigners gathered at Oakfield Rec in June, 2016 NNL-160620-123456001
Campaigners gathered at Oakfield Rec in June, 2016 NNL-160620-123456001
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Rugby Borough Council has submitted a formal offer to buy Oakfield Rec in a bid to get the much-loved green space reopened since being fenced off by its owners, much to the .

Oakfield Recreation Ground is owned by the Heart of England Cooperative Society and, until recently, was leased and maintained by the council as a park.

However the Co-op fenced off the site in June last year and refused to enter discussions on a new long-term lease after being turned down for planning permission earlier in 2016 to build houses on the site amid much opposition from residents.

In a letter sent at the time, the Co-op’s solicitor told the council their client did not want to sell the land.

The Co-op withdrew an appeal against the planning permission rejection in April, this year, and the council understands the society may now be willing to sell the site, a council spokesman said.

Council leader Cllr Michael Stokes said: “I know from my discussions with the Save Oakfield group and from the local ward councillors that the Oakfield Recreation Ground fulfils an important role in a community that has limited access to open space.

“We have offered to buy the site on previous occasions and been turned down, but one year on since the site was fenced off and with no prospect of the land being put to any other use at this time we want to remove any doubt the Co-op may have that our offer still stands.

“It has long been an ambition of ours to improve Oakfield Rec as a community facility, and with a positive response we can still make that happen.”

Oakfield Rec is listed as an asset of community value, following a successful application that was submitted by the Save Oakfield Rec campaign group.

The campaigners welcomed the council taking the initiative by making an offer and hoped they could agree a price to reopen the ‘cherished’ park.

“The fences must come down and sensible, reasoned discussions with Rugby Borough Council need to commence,” a spokesman said.

“By spectacularly failing in its attempt to gain planning permission, the Co-op has further demonstrated there is no future inflated value with Oakfield to be realised.

“The Co-ops reputation here is in tatters, and there is only one course of action that may even slightly counter against the damage they have already caused to themselves.

“Save Oakfield’s message to the Heart of England Co-operative and Rugby Borough Council is straightforward – enter into meaningful discussions with regards to the transfer of ownership of Oakfield Recreation Ground so that it may be re-instated into the well-used and cherished facility that it once was.”

The Co-op has been contacted for comment.