Rugby MP and council leader assess Oakfield Park plan - The Rugby Observer
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12th Aug, 2022

Rugby MP and council leader assess Oakfield Park plan

Rugby Editorial 20th Nov, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

HOUSING plans for a much-loved playing field are unlikely to be approved, Rugby’s MP has told its owners.

Mark Pawsey and Rugby Borough Council leader Michael Stokes met with the Chief Executive of Heart of England Co-Operative Group, which last month announced plans to build 62 homes on Oakfield Park.

And, while stopping short of agreeing with Mr Pawsey that the plans would probably be rejected, Coun Stokes said he could not see how the development would fit with local planning policy.

He also described the Co-Op’s apparent delay in submitting a planning application – and its agreement to discuss the matter further – as encouraging.

A statement released on behalf of Mr Pawsey explained he and Coun Stokes asked Co-op boss Ali Kurji to reconsider developing the Bilton Road park, which has been leased to Rugby Borough Council for some 30 years.

The statement added Mr Kurji was invited to meet Rugby’s head of planning “who would offer advice based on planning policy and confirm that the land is protected open space and it would not be in line with policy or the council’s Local Plan to consider development of it”.

Coun Stokes said: “I couldn’t say for sure whether it would be rejected or not, but based on what the Co-Op has submitted so far, and based on our published policies, I can’t see any policy that fits with it.”

He added Mr Kurji seemed to have shelved his initial plan to submit a planning application this week, instead agreeing to send a representative for further discussions with the council’s head of planning tomorrow (Friday).

“I think this is quite positive, as it demonstrates that they’re engaging in the discussion.” said Coun Stokes. “They are a big investor in Rugby, and I would rather work with them than against them.”

Mr Kurji confirmed discussions were continuing and no planning application had yet been submitted.

He added: “We are acutely aware of the strength of feeling among local residents.

“We are passionate about serving the needs of our local community as has been consistently demonstrated by our ongoing investment programmes within the region.

“In the past five years we have invested over £7 million in the Rugby area alone and currently have 177 employees, representing over a tenth of our workforce.

“We therefore see ourselves playing an integral part in the local community and are committed to continuing to reinvest our profits for the benefit of the community we serve.”

Meanwhile, protests against the development continued on Saturday (November 16) when objectors flocked to the park for the ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round an Oakfield Tree’ demonstration.

Campaign group Save Oakfield’s online petition – at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/SaveOakfield – has attracted over 1,460 signatures, in addition to nearly 300 people having signed the paper version.

Tie a yellow ribbon… Trees, bushes and fences in Oakfield Park have been decorated by local residents opposed to the proposed planning application to build housing on it. 47.014.012.rug.jm1

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