Fury at sell-off of open spaces

Accrington Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX SCAPENS alex.scapens@men­media.co.uk @AlexS­capen­sMEN

COUN­CIL plans to sell off ar­eas of pub­lic open space in Ac­cring­ton for hous­ing have met with anger.

Hyn­d­burn coun­cil has pub­lished two sep­a­rate ‘dis­posal of open space’ no­tices re­lat­ing to 3.8 acres of land near Bul­lough Park, and 12.2 acres of Highams Play­ing Fields - the lat­ter as part of the con­tro­ver­sial Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley Com­mu­nity Trust de­vel­op­ment.

The Fern­gore Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion is seek­ing a meet­ing with ward coun­cil­lors as it op­poses the dis­posal of the smaller site, north of Miller Fold Av­enue and east of Wil­lows Lane.

Chair­man John Drinkwa­ter claimed the land was part of Wood­nook Vale Na­ture Re­serve - but this was re­futed by coun­cil leader Miles Parkinson.

Mr Drinkwa­ter said: “Bul­lough Park was left to the res­i­dents of Fern­gore, not the coun­cil.

“A lot of peo­ple come and walk there, it is a big na­ture trail. Peo­ple are quite an­gry about it, you can’t sell land you don’t own. There will prob­a­bly be protests.”

But Coun Parkinson said the land was a for­mer tip site al­lo­cated for hous­ing back in 1996.

He said: “This does not af­fect the na­ture re­serve. It was a land­fill site many years ago. It’s near to the park and the na­ture re­serve so it’s an ideal site to bring up a fam­ily.”

He said it was ‘ not a ma­jor site’, and was suit­able for about 40 houses.

The Save Highams Play- ing Fields cam­paign group has urged its sup­port­ers to ob­ject to the Highams dis­posal.

The £2.5m sports hub de­vel­op­ment at Highams was granted plan­ning per­mis­sion last De­cem­ber, af­ter 71 ob­jec­tions along with 97 let­ters of sup­port, and Fields in Trust gave its con­sent in April.

Re­it­er­at­ing the rea­son for the sale, Coun Gareth Mo­lineux, cabi­net mem­ber for leisure, said: “To main­tain land such as Highams Play­ing Fields is not some­thing the coun­cil can do. Coun­cil re­sources are scarce, the rev­enue bud­get is shrink­ing year on year. The land will still be used by the pub­lic. It is a win-win, res­i­dents will have FA-stan­dard fa­cil­i­ties, Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley can ben­e­fit and help the youth of the bor­ough.”

Any­one wish­ing to ob­ject to ei­ther land dis­posal has been given un­til Mon­day, July 23. Email cor­po­rateprop­erty@hyn­d­burnbc.gov.uk.

Fi­nal de­ci­sions will then be made by the Cabi­net. For more in­for­ma­tion call the coun­cil’s prop­erty man­ager on 01254 380232.

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