Defiant protesters say the 'fight has only just begun' to save Northampton park 'from the bulldozers' in open letter to council
"We will fight this all the way. We have only just begun. My message to the newly formed West Northamptonshire Council is a simple one: don't follow in the footsteps of our last failed council."
A group of protesters from Northampton have penned an open letter to the council saying they have 'only just begun the fight' to save their local park from being built on.
Residents from Thorplands addressed their open letter to Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) and to West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), who are protesting against plans to build 125 homes on a pocket park in Fraser Road.
The site has been listed as a possible area to develop on in WNC's Local Plan Part Two, which could see 125 social houses built.
The open letter reads: "We the residents of Thorplands are totally opposed to any building on our park off Fraser Road.
"This is the only open space we have. The only place to let dogs off a lead for a good run, the only open space to kick a ball around or spend a day foraging for pinecones. We jog, picnic, sunbathe and sledge in peace here.
"Many members of our community say this is the only space on the estate where they feel safe.
"Your planning letter is titled "NPH asset management" by "asset" I assume you mean bricks and mortar, pounds and pence.
"To us this park is an asset, it's an asset to our well being. We don't want our children to sit at home on PlayStations, we want them out running on the field.
"How often have you heard older people say, 'We didn't have anything as kids and we were happy, we would take ourselves out into the fields and make our own fun'.
"Well, personally, that's what my children have done over the years on that field. And I've met dozens of people this week tell similar stories from their own family outings up to the park.
"We don't need anything done to the field. It's perfect as it is.
"I learnt that central government has highlighted the Talavera ward as being a deprived area and has been added to the "Left Behind List" and specifically lacking in open free spaces.
"Yet here you are wanting to bulldoze our last remaining open space. A space of amazing natural beauty, teeming with wildlife.
"The local support for this petition has taken us all by surprise with 800+ signatures.
"We will fight this all the way. We have only just begun.
"My message to the newly formed West Northamptonshire Council is a simple one: don't follow in the footsteps of our last failed council. Listen to the people, be with the people and work with the people you represent - us."
Cllr Rebecca Breese, WNC’s cabinet member for planning, responded to the letter.
She said: “During the production of the Northampton Local Plan Part Two it was proposed to allocate the Fraser Road site as housing.
"There were two rounds of consultation on the proposed submission version of the Local Plan Part Two, which included this site and which allowed scrutiny by all stakeholders including councillors and local residents.
"The Local Plan Part Two was submitted to the secretary of state in February and inspectors have been appointed to carry out an examination in public.
"It should also be noted there is a demonstrable need for housing in the area without which local families and older people could be forced to move away.
"While this is the case, no planning application has been submitted and once it is, it will be subject to the normal public consultation and scrutiny and will be tested against all planning policies which seek to find a balance between the competing forces of a national housing shortage and the overall impact of the development on this corner of Northampton.”
To view the petition, click here.