New Bilton residents fight Oakfield Recreation Ground housing plans

John Brown, Fred Marvin, Dexter Johnson, Pam Marvin and Tim Coff are among those fighting the proposal
John Brown, Fred Marvin, Dexter Johnson, Pam Marvin and Tim Coff are among those fighting the proposal

Neighbours have rallied together to fight a “ridiculous” proposal to build houses on their village playing field.

Developers delivered letters to nearby homes on October 7, outlining plans to build 62 houses on Oakfield Recreation Ground in New Bilton.

John Brown, who walks his dog in the park, has collected 140 signatures for a petition.

He said: “This is the only green space around here and they are talking about putting houses on it.

“It’s ridiculous. The congestion is already a nightmare and there aren’t the facilities, such as a proper hospital and enough schools, to support extra families,” he added.

The area includes a number of trees, some children’s play equipment and a sports pitch.

A Rugby Borough Council spokesman said the Heart of England Co-operative owns the land and the council had leased it for around 30 years.

But the lease expired a year ago and the Co-op decided not to extend it. A public consultation about the proposal, led by developers PJ Planning, was held at Rugby Hotel in Sheep Street last night (Wednesday).

Cllr Steven Birkett, ward councillor for New Bilton, intends to fight the development alongside residents.

He said: “The recreation ground is a vital community asset.

We should be supporting healthy lifestyles not depriving people of opportunities to participate in sport and recreation.

“It seems very unfair for the local community to suffer because of the Co-op’s desire to make a profit – not exactly the ethical policy it claims to follow.”

Nada O’Meara, who lives near to the recreation ground, said the green space would be a great loss to the community.

“There will be nowhere for children to learn to ride their bikes safely, play football with their friends or make a big snowman, and that will be very sad,” she added.

A formal planning application has not yet been lodged.

Ali Kurji, chief executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, said: “As a community retailer, the society has a deep regard for its local community and greatly values local public opinion.

“The public consultation provided an opportunity for the public to air their views and all matters raised will be carefully considered.

“Subject to the consultation outcome and any subsequent planning application, it would be society’s intention to assist in the funding of alternative recreational facilities should the need arise.”