Building on Oakfields set to go ahead

Oakfield playing fields in use for football matches

Oakfield playing fields in use for football matches - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting to save Oakfields Playing Fields from becoming an 800-home estate are facing defeat after the site was earmarked for development.

Thousands of residents signed two petitions against the inclusion of the Forest Road site in the draft Redbridge Local Plan, which identifies areas for development over the next 15 years.

The plan will go to a service committee on Wednesday before being sent to full council on June 11 for a final decision.

Talks with developers could begin as soon as January if plans are approved.

The site, which the council believes could accommodate 800 homes, a school and a medical centre, has been included in the draft Redbridge Local Plan 2015-2030.

The decision to include the site goes against a campaign backed by residents, sports clubs and national governing bodies who claimed the high-quality playing pitches were too important to lose.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said consultation over the preferred options report, published last year, was “not a referendum” and Oakfields had remained the preferred option.

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The Save Oakfield Site campaign presented a petition to the council with 1,979 signatures and one to parliament with more than 5,000.

Cllr Helen Coomb, cabinet member for planning, economy and regeneration, said: “[Oakfield] was always a good option. Nobody likes to see that kind of change but we have to look at the borough as a whole.

“Oakfields is an ideal place because it doesn’t fulfil green belt purpose anymore. It’s already bordered by housing.

“This is an area where we can build family accommodation.”

The draft plan will go to the neighbourhoods and communities service committee on Wednesday, before being sent to an extraordinary meeting of the full council on Thursday June 11 for a final decision to be made.

Residents can attend both and register to speak at the committee, but not full council.

Chris Nutt, of the Save Oakfield Site campaign, said it was “scandalous” they would not be able to send a delegation.

“There’s no guarantee that the housing development there will contain any social or affordable housing,” he said.

“This has been rushed through. One wonders if there will be any sport left in Redbridge.”

Alan Howe, of Barkingside 21, said the site was “valued” by residents and people who travelled to use it.

“I’ll definitely be sad to see it go – it’s such a valuable sporting resource.”

He said the council should build on other parts of green belt in Redbridge instead.

“These areas of green belt are eventually going to go anyway, you can’t hold back the tide,” he said.

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