Sadiq Khan opposes Redbridge Council’s Oakfield Playing Fields development
PUBLISHED: 15:34 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:51 18 November 2016
Redbridge Council’s contentious plans to build 800 homes on Oakfield Playing Fields have been opposed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Campaigners have battled for years to save the popular pitches in Forest Road, Barkingside, from having a housing development built on them, as part of the council’s Local Plan.
A letter from City Hall’s assistant director for planning, Stuart Murray, said the council’s draft plan was not in “conformity” with the London Plan and “exceptional circumstances” needed to support the release of green belt had not been demonstrated.
“We are excited to receive this news,” said Save Oakfield Society spokesman, Howard Berlin.
“On the face of it, this means that we won and that Oakfield Playing Fields is saved.”
The letter went onto state: “The mayor recognises that protecting green belt is a challenge facing many boroughs but considers that they must seek capacity to address housing need without intruding on it.”
Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal was not surprised by the news.
“Everybody has to have their say on the Oakfield plan and Mr Khan is just doing what he promised he would do and trying to protect the green belt in his representation to the inspectorate,” he told the Recorder.
“Building there is the best thing that can happen for Redbridge. Maybe it’s not the best thing for Oakfields, but as an administration we have to put the best interests of the whole borough before the best interests of a particular area.”
London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge, Keith Prince said the news was a fantastic victory and it was important to deliver new homes in the borough but not at the “expense” of residents.
“It is so important that we protect our green spaces and I’m delighted the Mayor’s team has stepped in to save Oakfield for our community.”
But Cllr Athwal added that people could not afford to be “attached to one bit of land”.
“If you look at modern football clubs like Arsenal or West Ham they have had to move their hallowed ground, and I think that is what has to happen here,” he continued.
“Oakfields was not chosen for the sake of it – you have housing on three sides and the third most under utilised Central Line station in the capital on another, it makes sense to build there.
“All that’s going to happen is that hallowed turf in Barkingside is going to move 400 to 500 yards down the road.”
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