Campaigners have two months to submit bid 'saving' former sports field in Aylesbury

The campaigners aiming to save a former sports field in Aylesbury are planning to lodge another bid to stop the site becoming a housing development.

By James Lowson
Monday, 20th June 2022, 4:59 pm

After a meeting with Stoke Mandeville Parish Council, The Save Bucks Sports and Social Fields announced it would produce another proposal by September.

Previously, Bucks Council announced it would submit plans to turn the local authority-owned site into a housing development.

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The field was fenced off during lockdowns, photo from @Stoke_Leys

During the consultation period when the local authority was seeking feedback on plans to build 100 homes at the unused field, the Facebook group was formed to oppose the project.

Stoke Mandeville residents were concerned about the prospect of losing another green space, when few are available to families in the area.

Other objections related to another housing development being constructed when five other projects have started recently, in this part of Aylesbury.

Since the sports club was shut down nearly five years ago, the field has been barricaded meaning it can’t be used by the people living in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

the provisional plans presented to the public by the council

Something which caused great frustration during lockdowns throughout the pandemic, when exercise was championed as a way for people to protect their mental health.

Bucks Council counters raising the fact it has to produce a large number of new homes in the next few years to meet the quota laid out in the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan.

The former sports field appeals as it gives the local authority a chance to create more homes for emergency workers close to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

It would also allow the council to build new homes on a site it owns rather than having to use greenbelt land.

After a meeting between parish council members and campaigners which was attended by roughly 75 members of the ‘Save Bucks Sports & Social Club Fields’ group, chair of the campaigns committee, Mungo Duncan, said: "It was decided tonight that we now have until September to put together a strong, fully-funded business case for how we would operate the facility, and we will work with the Parish Council on this as far as we can.

“There is still plenty of work ahead, but with the support of the Parish Council we are confident that we can produce a sound business plan that saves our green space, provides the much needed provisions to support the well-being and health of the community, and ensures the financial revenues are in place to make it viable to Buckinghamshire Council.”

During the session which Mungo described as ‘feisty’, the possibility of reopening the sports field was raised, but Bucks Council cautioned a review would need to take place before the field could be reopened.

Councillor John Chilver told The Bucks Herald: “There has been much publicity around the Buckinghamshire Council proposals to bring forward a new development on this site.

"This is an area that is not designated for public use and that is currently fenced off but we are aware some local people have accessed the site for recreational use such as dog-walking.

"The site has always been privately owned land which was open only to members of the former County Council sports and social club.

“The site is close to Stoke Mandeville Hospital and our plans would provide new and much improved public space for all to enjoy, as well as, crucially, providing more affordable housing for key workers like nurses and other NHS staff who work at the hospital.

"In Buckinghamshire we must provide more affordable homes to prevent key workers and younger people being priced out of the market.

"We also want to protect our environment and would rather develop existing Council owned sites where possible than have to look at building homes on greenbelt land. With the improvements these plans would bring, there is a clear rationale behind what we are proposing.

“We continue to welcome ideas the community wishes to bring forward for how the space can best be used to meet these needs.

"There has been a request to open the field for public use during this interim period.

"We are examining the implications around this and will let people know of the outcome.

“The decision was subject to a call-in period and this is what has happened here. This decision has been called in to provide additional clarity.”

Stoke Mandeville Parish Council was approached for a comment.