Judge brands developer's attempt to force Rugby council to reduce amount of parks required “close to being totally without merit”

Oakfield Rec has been fenced-off since 2016.
Oakfield Rec has been fenced-off since 2016.

“Close to being totally without merit,” that was a Judge’s damning verdict of the arguments fielded by a developer who wants to force Rugby council to allocate less room for parks in our town so they can build a retirement village on a park.

The Heart of England Cooperative Society, which owns the land, fenced-off the park to the public in 2016 when Rugby council rejected plans to build homes on the site.

And developer McCarthy & Stone has been attempting to build a retirement village of 62 apartments and 14 bungalows on the fenced-off Oakfield Rec for years.

But last December Rugby council refused permission on the basis it would constitute an unacceptable loss of green space.

In the latest instalment of the long-running saga, the developer took Rugby council to planning court to argue that the Local Plan’s allocation of open spaces is excessive.

Had their case been successful, it could have ended in Rugby council’s case against the development being severely weakened.

Richard Joy, of campaign group Save Oakfield said: "If they were successful, it could result in a reduction in the open space standards adopted across the borough, seriously affecting Rugby Borough Council's ability to stave off speculative development proposals such as this one."

High Court Judge Sir Ross Cranston seemed unimpressed by the developer’s arguments – finding in favour of Rugby council.

Undeterred, McCarthy & Stone has appealed Sir Cranston’s decision and hired a top lawyer, to fight their corner.

And, alongside the case in the planning court, McCarthy & Stone has appealed Rugby council’s December rejection of their planning application.

On this front, Rugby council is preparing prepare to join forces with campaigners and residents against McCarthy & Stone when the planning appeal comes before a planning inspector at a series of public hearings later this month.

Mr Joy will be speaking at the hearings, and he will be joined by residents who will speak about the impact that the closure of the park has had on the public.

The hearing begins at Rugby Town Hall from 10am on Tuesday September 24 to Friday September 27, and Tuesday October 1 and Wednesday October 2. The public are welcome to attend.

See www.facebook.com/SaveOakfield for more information.