ANGER has greeted news Stratford Town Trust is looking to sell off part of Rowley Fields for housing.
The Trust is putting 7.8 acres of the popular area bordering the Welcombe Hills on the market and is hoping to get several million pounds. It is being earmarked for around 80 homes.
Trust chiefs say the remaining 12 acres will be retained as greenbelt, along with the existing public footpaths and the children’s play area.
Concern over the future of the well-used area was initially expressed when the Trust spent £615,000 in January 2013 to buy a house in Benson Road, giving access to part of Rowley Fields. Residents formed The Rowley Fields Forever action group in a bid to protect the area for future generations.
Trust Chairman Alan Haigh said: “It is important to stress that a majority of Rowley Fields will be protected and not developed – and that development has already historically happened on the land. This is the continuation of a process which started in 1912.”
And Trust Chief Executive Helen Munro explained the purpose of the Trust was to “utilise and maximise” its assets for the benefit of those living in Stratford.
She added: “There are very many organisations doing valuable work in the town which rely on our support. At our 2014 AGM we reported our highest grant giving for eight years. Those benefitting from – and needing – our support is increasing year-on-year.
“This sale will generate millions of pounds which the Trust will invest to support its work for the good of the wider community.”
But the move has been strongly criticised.
Richard Vos, a previous Lib Dem town council candidate for the area, said: “‘I’m astonished that the Town Trust is putting this site forward for development. This is a vital part of the green space to the north of the town and effectively forms part of the Welcome Hills.
“Surely the Town Trust has a greater responsibility to the town than just seizing on every development opportunity. It should be preserving this area for future generations. I hope the Trust will re-think it’s position
and withdraw this site now.”
The Trust confirmed it had no plans for any further land sales but had a duty to act on all approaches.
Rowley Fields is one a number of controversial proposals put forward by developers seeking to have sites included in the district’s Core Strategy allocations following Stratford District Council’s ‘call for sites’.
Others include 1,080 houses in Bidford, and in Stratford, 750 houses at Drayton Manor Farm, off Alcester Road, 750 houses at Lower Clopton Farm, and 1,600 houses on land south of Loxley Road and north of Banbury Road.
The full list of all the sites put forward by developers has now been published on the council’s website. The council will assess some 245 sites proposed before issuing a Draft Sites Allocation Plan.
There will then be a public consultation, expected early next summer, before the final Site Allocations for development are made.