Battle set to begin to save Prestbury playing field from development
CAMPAIGNERS are preparing to fight what could be the last battle to save a playing field in Prestbury from housing development.
An independent enquiry will begin on Monday, September 9 when a barrister will make Prestbury Green Working Group’s case for having the old rugby pitch at Starvehall Farm stamped as a village green.
The designation would rule out any houses being built on the field which is owned by Gloucestershire County Council.
Cheltenham Borough Council planning bosses agreed to give planning permission to a bid to build 300 homes on the Starvehall Farm site last November despite fierce opposition. The field could house approximately one quarter of the homes.
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Parish councillor Bob Stark has led the fight against the housing plan and he believes his campaign group has “an even chance” of success at the enquiry which will take place at the Municipal Offices.
He said: “This issue was brought up when the planning application was decided on, that we wanted this to be designated as a village green.
“We recognise that the green belt is under attack and that Starvehall Farm was going to go but this development would see 1,000 people housed here and we are being told we need less playing fields?
“The dream scenario would be that the inspector agrees with us that the field has been used for lawful sports and past times for the last 40 or 50 years and then says ‘yes, I agree with it becoming a village green’.”
Mr Stark is hoping as many people as possible pack the public gallery during the four day enquiry.
He said: “I think it is very important that local people show that they are concerned.
“If they are not concerned and nobody turns up it tends to indicate to the inspector that people do not car. But people do care and they have taken the trouble to write us letters about what they have done with the fields in the past.”
The county council would ordinarily rule on a village green application, but an independent inspector was called for because of the authority’s potential conflict of interest as the owner of the land and the fact it has formally objected to the application.
The approval of planning permission for the Starvehall Farm site in November forced the consideration of the village green application.
The county council declined to comment.