Hub site in run­ning for UK’s best park

Accrington Observer - - YOUR PICTURES -

JON MACPHER­SON

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

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