It’s victory for Oakfield campaigners as homes bid thrown out

Last week's Advertiser reported how this evening's meeting was D-Day for the campaign
Last week's Advertiser reported how this evening's meeting was D-Day for the campaign

There was delight for Save Oakfield campaigners this evening, Wednesday, as borough councillors unanimously rejected plans to build on the recreation ground.

After a site visit this afternoon where councillors looked at the much-loved space off Bilton Road, they gathered at the town hall to make a decision on the controversial application.

The land is owned by the Heart of England Co-operative Society and it was leased to the borough council for use as a playing field for 30 years.

But 18 months ago, the Co-op announced plans for houses and apartments to be built on the green space.

This triggered a passionate response from nearby residents alarmed at one of the few green spaces near the town centre and the start of the Save Oakfield campaign

They were backed by their ward councillors and MP Mark Pawsey.

Original plans for 60 homes were scaled back to 50 and that was the basis of the outline planning application to the committee this evening, which was recommended for refusal by officers.

After a discussion about the plan and hearing passionate speeches from representatives of the Save Oakfield campaign, the Co-op and the ward councillors, the committee voted to back the recommendation and reject the plan.

Speaking after the vote, Save Oakfield spokesperson Richard Joy said: “We’re delighted that councillors have voted in our favour.

“We’ve had enormous support from local residents and whenever we’ve asked for support, the community has been there.”

That was in evidence today when some 100 people were at the rec for the site visit and then a huge number turned up at the town hall for the meeting, bursting into applause when the vote went their way.