Freemantle’s biggest open space under threat once again, local community fighting back

Posted on December 10, 2010 by

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Freemantle’s biggest open space, known by many as The Field, is once again potentially threatened with development despite Council plans to purchase it and keep it for public use.

The field from the sky, in glorious monochrome

Bovis homes originally applied to build on the 7 acre open space, which used to be the Civil Service’s sports ground.  However, local residents, who had been long using it as an open space in what is a very built-up part of the city, had vigorously campaigned against the proposals and formed the ‘Friends of the Field’ group to pressure the Council to keep it as a space for the community.  Several successful festivals have been held there by the group in recent years, and surveys there showed huge support for keeping the area a community resource… The Council decided last year to support the residents and made it clear that they would issue a compulsory purchase order in order to secure the land.

Now it seems though that Bovis homes may have thrown a spanner in the works – local MP Alan Whitehead has claimed that they’re “attempting to block the purchase order by getting the field designated as appropriate for large-scale housing development”, and Alan is calling “on city planners to reject a new bid by property developers to use the ex-Civil Service Sports Ground in Freemantle for housing.”

To this end, the Friends of the Field are calling on local residents to make the case as to why the field should be kept as a green space and for community use, and Alan has written to the City planners to remind them of why he thinks the site should remain open, including:

.The history of the use of the field for community and sporting
events

.The current strong sense of community ownership of the site,
increased by the relative urban density of the rest of the ward

.The integral role the field plays in the restructuring of local
education services- particularly the proposal for a new Learning Campus on
the current St Mark’s school site.

.The increased need to protect local sports resources in the light
of the Conservative Government scrapping funding for school sports.

The Blowhole will keep an eye on developments on this story and bring them to you in due course…

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Posted in: News, Southampton