Hub site in running for UK’s best park
AN Accrington park which is the site of a proposed £2 million sports hub has been nominated for the ‘ UK’s Best Park’ award.
Around 100 supporters of the ‘Save Highams Playing Fields’ attended a public meeting at St Joseph’s Church after plans for the controversial development were formally submitted to Hyndburn council by Accrington Stanley Community Trust (ASCT).
ASCT wants to transform Higham’s Playing Fields to include a multiuse building to replace the current structure on the site, a full-size floodlit artificial football pitch, three grass pitches for football and rugby and a new artificial cricket wicket, and a 55-space car park.
If approved the development would take six months to build.
Erica Uttley, a committee member on the cam- paign group, said they have submitted a 2,500-signature petition to Hyndburn council, but said that was ‘just the beginning’.
The committee has now called on residents to write ‘quality’ letters of objection to the council as part of the planning application process.
She told the meeting: “Even though we’ve done the wonderful job of doing the petition and have 2,500-plus signatures on there, that was just raising awareness for the issue that we have.
“The next step for us is to put the objection letters in. A quality letter will have more weight rather than just thinking they are on about house prices so we will put it aside and it doesn’t count.”
Higham’s Playing Fields is one of 360 parks across the UK to be nominated for the ‘ UK’s Best Park’ award.
The competition is run by national charity Fields in Trust which aims to safeguard recreational spaces and campaign for better statutory protection for outdoor sites.
Erica said their 2,500-signature petition has also been submitted to Fields in Trust as the charity will give their opinion on the sports hub development to the council.
The Observer revealed last week how the Trust was blocked from setting up the sports hub next to the Wham Stadium on Livingstone Road after one of the site tenants refused to relinquish their long tenancy.
The Trust has said that the hub aims to increase participation in sport, improve health and exercise levels and provide more opportunities for disabled people to access vital sport and education activities.
It has also received backing from amateur football leagues and clubs in Hyndburn.
Last month Hyndburn council voted to give their conditional backing to the Higham’s proposal - provided it is approved by Sport England, Fields in Trust, and the planning committee, and complies with the deeds of the land.
It was also claimed at the meeting that the petition contains many signatories living outside the area.
Voting for the UK’s Best Park award closes on November 3 and the winner will be named on November 29.
Members of the ‘Save Highams Playing Fields’ campaign committee