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Oakfields plan ‘an assault on the green belt’, say campaigners

PUBLISHED: 15:15 06 October 2016

A general view of Oakfield playing fields in use for football matches

A general view of Oakfield playing fields in use for football matches

Archant

A national campaign group has described Redbridge Council’s plan to build 800 new homes on Oakfield Playing Fields as an “assault on our green belt”.

The 21 football pitches and nine cricket grounds in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, have been earmarked as a site for development in the Local Plan – the framework for housing until 2030.

A passionate campaign has been fought by residents, councillors and sports organisations against the proposals for the last few years.

Last week the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) joined the debate.

Alice Roberts, green spaces campaigner for CPRE London, said: “If the council gets its way, massive losses to our precious green fields will follow.

“We are staggered by this blatant land grab. This is nothing short of an assault on our green belt, land which is afforded the highest level of protection.”

Ms Roberts argued “categorically” that the council did not need the land for housing, and that there are enough brownfield sites available.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal responded: “Out Local Plan is evidenced based. There have been a lot of years of work from officers and experts to come up with this evidence based plan.”

He continued: “This is not something I have got a choice in, the cabinet has a choice in.

“We have to use every bit of land we have to meet the targets set by the Mayor.

“We have an increase in homeless, an increase in the number of people in temporary accommodation, putting children and old people in homes as far away as Canterbury.”

The Labour leader made the point that two separate reports said Oakfields did not fulfill its green belt requirements.

“We are still one of the leafiest boroughs in the whole of London.

“Oakfields is in the right place, sitting next one of the least used Central Line stations.”

He added: “We have an alternative playing pitch strategy which create even better sports fields on the other side of the railway track.”

The consultation into the Local Plan closed on Friday.


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