PEOPLE power won out this week as the plug was pulled on plans to sell part of Rowley Fields to developers for housing.
Stratford Town Trust recently announced proposals to put 7.8 acres of the land bordering Welcombe Hills on the market.
Earmarked for around 80 homes, the charity argued the move – which could have generated several million pounds – was necessary to help provide funding for the future.
However opposition to the plans grew, with some residents calling for people to become members of the trust so they could voice their concerns.
Relations then worsened after a protest group said they were left to demonstrate in the cold when a public meeting to discuss the plans was held by the trust at Stratford ArtsHouse – a claim the trust strongly refuted.
And on Tuesday (February 24) the trust performed a u-turn when it revealed plans to sell off the land for housing had been abandoned.
In a statement trust chairman, Alan Haigh, said: “We are a charity working for the good of Stratford – we do not want to pursue a course of action, which our membership and the community we work for does not support.
“We have met representatives of those living next to Rowley Fields and the chairman of the Stratford Society and spent considerable time discussing a way forward.
“Our ambition now is to work together to establish a means of enhancing Rowley Fields as a recreational space and generating income from it.”
Mr Haigh had previously thrown down the gauntlet to the Rowley Fields objectors, challenging them to come up with an alternative way of generating £250,000 each year – the amount the trust said would be generated by selling that portion of land.
But the charity now says it wants to work with townspeople to set up a Friends of Rowley Fields group – helping with the maintenance of the land as well as looking at ways of further utilising it for recreational purposes and income generation.
The trust’s decision also means the extraordinary general meeting – set to take place on Monday (March 2) – has been cancelled.
Rowley Fields representatives Tim Bailey and Quentin Willson issued a statement.
It said: “We are pleased the Town Trust has listened to the residents and agreed to retain Rowley Fields as public open space, for recreation and leisure activities.
“Residents right across Stratford will benefit from this decision to protect such a precious area, which will remain available for everyone to use. We now need to ensure the area is enhanced and supported.”
But while the climbdown was welcomed, some members of campaign group Rowley Fields Forever insist the fight is not over as the trust still plans to develop a 1.48 acre parcel of land behind 7 Benson Road.
The property was bought for more than £500,000 in a bid to facilitate the development of around ten homes but is currently subject to High Court proceedings.