Search

Victory for campaigners fighting to save Oakfields Playing Fields

PUBLISHED: 17:07 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 15 September 2017

Save Oakfields campaigners. Picture: Keith Prince

Save Oakfields campaigners. Picture: Keith Prince

Keith Prince

The battle to save the popular pitches at Oakfields Playing Fields has drawn to an end as planning inspectors sided with campaigners.

Oakfields playing fields. Picture: Ellie Hoskins Oakfields playing fields. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

The 21 football pitches and nine cricket squares in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, was one of the green belt spots earmarked as a site for development by the council’s Local Plan.

Redbridge Council had wanted to build 850 homes on the green belt land but a passionate campaign has been fought by residents, councillors, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and sports organisations against the proposals for the last few years.

In June, community members made official representations against the plan to planning inspector David Smith in the hope that he would curtail the plans.

And last night, council leader Jas Athwal confirmed that plans to built on the popular pitches had been dropped.

Howard Berlin of the Save Oakfields campaign Howard Berlin of the Save Oakfields campaign

Jubilant campaigners have now shared their joy with the Recorder, including Ilford North MP Wes Streeting.

He said: “I’m so pleased for Oakfield campaigners who’ve mounted one of the most professional and effective campaigns I have ever seen.

“With patience, persistence and determination they put forward a well-argued and well-evidenced case to save a much-loved community space.

“They deserve all of the credit for this outcome.

Council leader Jas Athwal. Picture: Paul Bennett, Council leader Jas Athwal. Picture: Paul Bennett,

“I am also relieved that the Local Plan will now go ahead without the inclusion of the proposed Oakfield development.

“Labour’s commitment to build new homes and regenerate our town centres is just what this borough needs after years of Tory inaction and neglect.”

Howard Berlin, of the Save Oakfield Society, said the playing fields exemplified the best of the borough’s greenbelt.

He said: “When Redbridge Labour Council submitted Oakfield to the Planning Inspector that decision was fundamentally flawed.

“The Council used so called “green belt experts” to try and declassify the Green Belt status and the planning inspector has seen through their tactics and found that they were unsound and have no legal basis.

“This is why the leader of Redbridge Council conceded defeat last night.

“We should also remember that our administration in the original consultation counted 7,000 objections to their Oakfield development plans as only two objections.”

Mr Berlin added thanks to all the sports organisations that backed the campaign, including Sport England, the Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

He added: “This is a great victory not just for residents of Fairlop but for all residents in Redbridge. Our green belt is precious”.

When the news was announced at Redbridge Town Hall last night, Cllr Athwal thanked campaigners for their dedication.

He said: “We did the right thing by putting all options on the table and allowing the inspector to decide.

“We are clear that delivering good growth and regeneration across the borough depends on continual engagement and dialogue with local communities and groups and we hope that groups like Save Oakfield and Ilford Noise will continue to engage.

“Thank you to all residents and campaigners involved, and we look forward to making further considerations on the inspector’s recommendations before the final decisions from the inspector on our Local Plan.”

Conservative group Leader Cllr Paul Canal hailed the victory of local campaigners against Redbridge Council’s plans to build on Oakfield .

He said: “In cricketing terms this was a giant killing of the highest order, akin to Old Parkonians beating Essex by an innings and a hundred runs

“Labour’s decision to press ahead with Oakfield’s destruction was flawed from the start, an act of unprecedented civic vandalism “ he said.

“Despite overwhelming evidence and opposition, Labour have ploughed on with this deeply flawed scheme.

Thousands of pounds of tax payers money has been wasted, hundreds of hours of officer’s time, without counting the distress and cost to the hero campaigners.”

“The council’s reputation for competence lies in tatters.

“The credit for the council’s defeat must rest with the brilliant campaigners, led by Chris Nutt, Howard Berlin and Warren Litkin. I salute them. ”

Cllr Canal said Redbridge Council should now extend the lease at the site “as a matter of urgency.”

He added: “We must protect our green belt and sporting legacy for future generations.“

Longstanding supporter of the campaign Keith Prince, London Assembly member for Redbridge, added his voice to the chorus of celebration.

He said: “This wonderful decision is a victory for the Save Oakfield Society and many other local campaigners, who worked tirelessly, protect Oakfield and oppose the council’s plans. “It was a privilege to support the campaign to save this precious piece of green belt land from development.

“Redbridge Council’s plans for Oakfield have been thoroughly rejected by the inspector and hopefully this will be the final nail in the coffin.

“It is a shame that such plans were ever considered, against the wishes of so many local residents.”

Related articles

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ilford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ilford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ilford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Ilford News Stories

Ilford High Road is closed both ways between Francis Street and Connaught Road due to a collision.

After a challenging year, 18-year-old Salahadin Abdelkadir has set himself on a course to achieve great things after leaving foster care.

Yesterday, 17:29

New statistics have revealed that Redbridge sees the greatest rise in residential break-ins over Christmas across London.

Yesterday, 16:32

A charity which encourage schoolchildren to talk about their own mental health has been busy in the borough.

PROMOTED CONTENT

You don’t have to make the trek to the North Pole to get into the Christmas spirit this year.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Oaks Park High School Year 8 student Rhia Gondhia likes to make people feel welcome.

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now