The Heart of England Co-operative Society has vowed to fence off Oakfield Rec and appeal against Rugby Borough Council’s decision to reject its plan for 50 homes on the site.
The Co-op owns the land and at the planning meeting on March 9 which saw its plan thrown out, its agent Narvinder Bains issued a thinly-veiled threat: “The fact remains, it is private land and the Co-op is not obliged to allow access.
“There is a risk the site will be closed off completely.”
And in a dramatic move today, Tuesday, the Society revealed it is to appeal against the refusal for 50 homes – and fence the site off.
The Society Secretary Steve Slater, said: “The Society is very disappointed that Rugby Borough Council has turned down our application to build 50 new homes at Oakfield Recreation Ground when there is a proven need for housing in the town.
“The council has a shortage of sites set aside for housing, according to national standards, and the proposed development would have provided a mix of housing from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom homes.
“Sadly, our offer to support Rugby Town Junior Football Club’s plans to create a new 3G all-weather football pitch was part and parcel of the planning application and will now be put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.
“We very much regret that Rugby Borough Council’s decision means the town is now unlikely to benefit from that investment.
“The planned investment in the facilities at Oakfield Recreation Ground will also depend on the outcome of the appeal.
“It is also with regret that we have to announce that we are left with no alternative, given that Rugby Borough Council’s lease on the land has run out, but to fence off the land as the Society can no longer take on the legal responsibility for public access.
The Co-op highlighted that Sport England had raised no objection to the planning application, considering that the £100,000 grant towards the junior football club’s 3G pitch, combined with the new multi-use games area at Oakfield, were sufficient to mitigate the loss of the playing field at the rec.