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Borough Council still committed to Oakfield Recreation Ground

RUGBY Borough Council has confirmed its commitment to protecting Oakfield Recreation Ground as a public open space for the benefit of residents of New Bilton and the wider community.

In an answer to a question put to him by Cllr Michael Brader, Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “The recreation ground is a valuable public open space and should be protected as such.”

In a written response to the meeting of the council held on Tuesday (14 November), he said: “[A recent] planning application was refused by this council, the principal ground for refusal being the unjustified loss of public open space.

Any proposal to develop the site… would require a clear and compelling justification in line with national and local planning policies. To date, such a justification has not been forthcoming and any application that fails to meet this test is likely to be refused.”

The response also clarified the potential use of a Compulsory Purchase Order, which is not a viable option due to the outstanding planning process. This is because an Order would not be granted by the Secretary of State while there was a potential planning application that had not been concluded – and because land values would be inflated well above the market value while there was potential for planning permission to be granted.

Following the meeting, Cllr Stokes added: “The Heart of England Cooperative is the only organisation that can bring an end to this ridiculous and ongoing saga.

Oakfield Recreation Ground has been a recreation ground for as long as anyone can remember and is not, as implied by the recent planning exhibition, “brown field” or industrial land.

“Once again I urge the Cooperative to put the interests of the community first.

“They can restore their standing in the community and dispose of an asset that they have no interest in by accepting our offer to buy the land at its current market value.”

The full question and response can be viewed in the minutes of the council meeting.

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