Redbridge Council approves Local Plan including Oakfield Playing Fields

Oakfield Playing Fields in Barkingside

Oakfield Playing Fields in Barkingside - Credit: Archant

The council approved its draft Local Plan at a heated four-hour meeting last night.

Residents packed out the public gallery at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, to listen to questions lodged by members of the public, which covered concerns about Oakfield Playing Fields, Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, being included in the Local Plan.

These were followed by a deputation presented to the council by Oakfields campaigners arguing the case for protecting the site from housing development.

Another deputation from campaigners concerned about the over-development of the south of the borough in the Local Plan was also heard.

Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) proposed an amendment to remove Oakfields from the plan.

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“This Local Plan would be much better without Oakfields in it,” he said. “It is a choice and it is the wrong choice.”

“It’s about money and let’s be frank about it.”

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Cllr Helen Coomb (Lab, Clementswood), cabinet member for regeneration, property and planning, said the council was struggling to meet its housing targets and could not support the amendment.

“We have got a big gap to fill and this is part of it,” she said.

Voting against his party over the amendment was Cllr Wes Streeting (Lab, Aldborough).

“I regret that I am a lonely voice on this side of the chamber,” he said. “It [Oakfields] is the heart of our community, it brings people of different backgrounds to work together and play together.”

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal (Lab, Mayfield) vowed to build better quality sports facilities if development went ahead at the site before the amendment was lost 34 to 22 votes with one abstention.

“It would be easy for me to make a different decision because I would walk out of here a superstar,” he said. “[But] it goes against eight years of work.”

He added: “It will be replaced by better facilities and I give that as a guarantee.”

Another amendment on tall buildings policy was also lost.

The Local Plan was then approved with 31 votes to 21 votes with four abstentions.

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