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Return of controversial proposals to develop Oakfield Playing Fields branded ‘perverse’

PUBLISHED: 18:46 30 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:16 02 October 2014

Oakfields playing fields in Barkingside

Oakfields playing fields in Barkingside

Archant

Plans to open up popular playing fields to development have been slammed as “perverse” and “unwelcome”.

Cllr Joyce RyanCllr Joyce Ryan

Redbridge Council unveiled its local plan outlining potential development areas, including a proposal to build 800 homes, a new high school and an NHS clinic on the Oakfield Playing Fields in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside.

The plan also suggested building on areas of the green belt and building up Woodford and Wanstead town centres.

But councillors and campaigners have vowed to fight the plans, which were temporarily ditched in September last year after the authority agreed to look at alternative options.

Cllr Joyce Ryan (Con, Fairlop) said development Oakfield would “squeeze away” the reasons why people moved to Redbridge.

“We should not be destroying the best sports facility in the borough,” she said.

“It’s just so wrong. It’s crazy.”

The report, which was due to go before the council’s neighbourhoods and communities service committee last night (Wednesday), included four strategies for how to tackle the borough’s burgeoning house shortage crisis.

Cllr Ryan said ward councillors did not know the proposals were being brought back until papers were released last week.

“I’m shocked. I think people are stunned,” she added.

Cllr Tom Sharpe (Con, Fairlop) said: “Redbridge Council has a duty of care to protect and safeguard Oakfield, which is a unique, delightful borough amenity, for our children and their children.”

He said he strongly opposed the “perverse, unwelcome proposal”.

Chris Nutt, chairman of the Oakfield Parkonians cricket club which uses the site along with other sports clubs, said campaigners would fight “hammer and tong” against development.

He said: “To break [the playing fields] up would be disastrous.

“We’re not talking about a park, we are talking about high quality cricket and football pitches.”

Last week council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said Redbridge needed to act to prevent itself from unwanted future developments.

Without a strong local plan, he said the borough would be open to planning by appeal, where developers gain permission by default due to the lack of a strategy.

“If we don’t do anything, we are going to struggle because we leave ourselves open [to developers],” the Labour leader told the Recorder.

Other large sites identified were Goodmayes and King George hospitals and Ford Sports Ground in Seven Kings.

Potential options also include building up Woodford and Wanstead town centres and looking at developing green belt areas in Hainault, Barkingside and Fairlop if policy restrictions were removed.


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