Temporary victory for Save Oakfield campaigners as controversial green belt review scrapped

Campaigners battling to stop a potential development of 1,000 homes on playing fields in Barkingside are celebrating a small victory after Redbridge Council stopped a review of green belt land.

Oakfield sports ground, in Forest Road, and land used by the Hainault and Clayhall Cricket Club, was one of the sites deemed suitable for development in the council’s Core Strategy Review.

Green belt land in Barkingside, Goodmayes and Woodford Green was also up for grabs but in a shock urgent statement to yesterday’s full council meeting, planning boss Cllr Alex Wilson announced the controversial review was being scrapped.

He said: “I’m all too aware of the public concern about the potential release of Oakfield Playing Fields from the green belt.

“I am requesting that the Local Development Framework committee undertakes a fresh review of alternative strategies to ensure our revised policy will continue to meet the borough’s needs whilst addressing the concerns that have been raised.

“This new study will be thorough and wide-ranging, and it will not be rushed.”

There will be a fresh public consultation on the new green belt review.

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Members of the Save Oakfield Site, who collected more than 1,400 signatures in petitions against any development, turned out to the meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, in force.

One member of the group urged the council to look at brown field sites for development instead and another asked what profit they could have made from a sale to developers.

Deputy Labour group leader Cllr Wes Streeting slammed the announcement as a “knee-jerk reaction” to public opposition ahead of council elections next year.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Hoskins said disposal of the green belt could be one of the council’s “biggest decisions” that should not be taken in the “frenzy” of election campaigns.

He added: “There will be those in the borough that quite rightly cherish open space and we are very fortunate for having so much of it, but there will be those who argue selling that site will create a whole new opportunity.”