It’s been a long and bitter battle and now Save Oakfield campaigners are calling for support ahead of the next, crucial stage of their fight.
They are urging people to turn out in force this Sunday, March 19, and say how the loss of Oakfield Rec has affected them, ready for the next showdown with landowners Heart of England Co-op.
The rec had been a well-used green space in a crowded area close to the town centre until the Co-op failed in its bid to get permission to build houses there.
When Rugby Borough Council rejected its controversial application a year ago, the Co-op threatened to fence the land off and end the land’s long-standing use as a play area.
The Co-op carried out that threat and also appealed against the borough council’s decision to reject the plan.
The Save Oakfield campaign has set up a fighting fund ready for that appeal and now a date has been set members are looking to step up the resistance.
Members are urging people to turn out in force on Sunday at the Indian Centre, in Edward Street, at 3pm.
Spokesman Richard Joy said: “It’s been over a year now since the application was unanimously rejected by the planning committee and finally the appeal is finally going to commence at the Town Hall on May 9.
“The Co-op has made significant changes to its application, having changed the layout of the proposal and having addressed the issue of affordable housing.
“However, the main issue remains and has always been that of open space.
“However they try to massage the figures, the fact remains that Oakfield is the only area in New Bilton for families, dog walkers and sports people.
“It remains the case that this area is under provision for amenity green space, a point which is demonstrated by the fact that the accessible edges of the field remain in use.
“The Co-op would have you believe that the loss of Oakfield can be mitigated by other green fields in the area. If this was true, then why are people still using the small amount of space left?”
In terms of Sunday’s rallying call, he added: “We’ll be calling on residents to prepare and read statements at the hearing, and would like to encourage everyone to join us at our public meeting on Sunday.
“Of course, we will help them with this and refer our pre-prepared statements to the planning consultancy company we have employed to represent us, but we need real people with real stories about how the loss of Oakfield has affected them.
“We are continuing to fund raise in order that we can instruct our planning consultants to represent us in May, so if you have been unable to make a contribution, please come to the public meeting to see us in person.
“Even if you have made a contribution before, we still have around another £1,500 to raise, so please consider donating again at www.gofundme.com/saveoakfield”