Campaign to save pitches from new housing plan goes to Sport England
�Campaigners against plans to build houses on green space in Harold Hill have found an unusual ally in Sport England.
Residents hoping to put a stop to Havering Council’s plans to build on land near Petersfield Avenue and Gooshays Drive are seeking help from the sports organisation.
Campaigner and former councillor, Dennis Cook, said: “They are our only hope, I do not have much confidence in the planning system but Sport England could be the last resort.”
Last month, the Recorder reported that the campaigners lost an appeal to designate the land as village green – which would have put it out of bounds for developers.
The land is currently used as a football pitch and, as part of the development, the council has proposed relocating the pitches to Noak Hill Road.
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However, Sport England say the site is not suitable.
Dennis said: “The site Havering Council have identified has never been used as a playing field.
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“It was the playground of a former school but no-one has ever really used it and there is no reason they would.”
Sport England are now consulting with Havering Council about suitable alternatives for the football pitches.
But if no alternative pitch is found then the plans will go to Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who will make the final decision.
Dennis said: “There is a real lack of open space that can be used as football pitches in Harold Hill. The only space the council has is the one that they have suggested.
“I will keep my fingers crossed about the outcome of this because there is no doubt what will happen when it goes to planning.”
The council originally introduced plans to build homes on the site two years ago, but campaigners – who have used the land for more than 50 years – claim that any development will be taking away much needed green space.
Dennis said: “I have been playing football on the land for as long as I can remember and it would be a shame if that had to come to an end.” Deputy Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Steven Kelly said: “The proposal to build quality housing at Gooshays Dr, Harold Hill is crucial to our Harold Hill Ambitions programme and will help to fund major infrastructure projects such as a new Library, improvements to Central Park, Dagnam Park and the Hilldene Shopping Centre. We are now considering with Sport England how to provide suitable replacement sporting facilities.”