Justice secretary Chris Grayling calls on council to protect Oakfield site

(L to R) Lee Scott MP, Pharmacy co-owner Vishal Pattani, Minister for Justice, Chris Grayling, fathe

(L to R) Lee Scott MP, Pharmacy co-owner Vishal Pattani, Minister for Justice, Chris Grayling, father of co-owners, Vijay Pattani, mother of co-owners, Sheila Pattani and co-owner, Nina Pattani, at Fairlop Pharmacy in Barkingside [NOTE: co-owners are brother and sister] - Credit: Vickie Flores

The justice secretary waded into the debate over the borough’s green belt.

Chris Grayling called on local authorities to be more “creative” in finding space to build homes as he showed support for Ilford North MP Lee Scott’s campaign to protect the Oakfield playing fields in Forest Road, Barkingside.

The minister made the comments as he visited businesses in High Street, Barkingside with Mr Scott.

He said: “I’m of the view that we should do all we can to protect the green belt – it’s so important to protect this part of the country.”

The comments come after Redbridge Council’s draft local plan offered the option to build 800 homes on the site.

Mr Grayling said: “What we require is imagination and creativity – with a little bit of imagination there are ways of creating more housing – we just have to focus our efforts on using the land bank that’s already there.

“That’s not to say it’s acceptable to build in back gardens either.”

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Mr Scott presented a petition signed by 4,864 people to Parliament last week asking it to reject any requests to remove the playing field’s green belt status.

He said: “We will do everything we can to protect our green belt.”

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