Playing Field Development

In an attempt to try and save the former college playing fields at the back of the Westbury site (Village move to save playing field - Burton Mail article) a special meeting of the Parish Council, open to the public, was held on 21 April 2004 after Rolleston Civic Trust raised fears about the possible future development of up to 260 homes on the land. The Trust stated the Government has already said the field should be protected from housing development and they want to see it reinstated as a sports field for the benefit of the people of Rolleston. Parish Council chairman John Morris, said: "Following a vote, we have decided to go and talk to the college principal, Keith Norris. We discussed the pros and cons of what the village would be likely to get if planning permission was granted. The Parish Council are still very much against the housing development and we always have been, but the public opinion seems to be that there is going to be some sort of housing development and that we should benefit from it in the shape of a Section 106 agreement." Further details can be read in the Burton Mail (Parish council slammed over field sale 'shame') article.

Set out below are the concerns raised by the Civic Trust (including their letter) and the Parish Councils position. These will hopefully give a historical record of events and further progress reports on this very important matter will be given as and when information becomes available.

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Rolleston Civic Trust Letter to the Parish Council (dated 17 Feb 2004)

To: Clerk to Rolleston-on-Dove Parish Council

College Playing Fields Site

Rolleston Civic Trust support the generally-held view of villagers that the Playing Fields site behind the Westbury Homes development is far too valuable to Rolleston to see it absorbed into another amorphous housing development. We realise, however, that it is far too valuable also to the site owners, Burton College, to let it go without good reason or financial return. It is obvious then that, if an alternative use is to be made of it, the Village must put together a specific plan for the site; it is also clear that time is running out to allow this to be drawn up, properly considered and accepted by village organisations and interested parties, the Borough Council and the College.

The detailed components of such a plan are as yet unclear; what is clear, however, is that if no plan is forthcoming soon, then the Borough Council and the College will provide their own housing alternative.

In this regard, Rolleston Civic Trust consider the following six points to be important:

  1. The Government has already stated that Playing Field sites should be protected from conversion to other purposes including housing.

  2. The College Playing Fields should be re-established as a sport and physical activity amenity from its present dormant state.

  3. The existing recreational area on Craythorne Fields is clearly prone to becoming water-logged, limiting its use as a regular playing field – certainly in the winter months. It is understood that the estimated costs of a proposal to add sufficient drainage would severely tax the resources of the Parish Council. An alternative use of this site could be as an extension to the woodland site adjacent to it – a portion of it could also be made available by the Parish Council as a car park and access way under the proposals of 4 & 5 below.

  4. The existence of a playing field where changing and showering facilities were available within a pavilion or other building would be a feature that would greatly benefit the youth of Rolleston. The recently published Parish Plan for Rolleston has commented that “the College playing fields would appear to be an ideal site” for local sports and leisure facilities. The Village Design Group are pursuing with The Countryside Agency the eligibility of a Biffaward grant for possible funding here.

  5. It is known that Rolleston Cricket Club are looking for a second playing area for their younger teams. The site would provide adequate space for football pitches and tennis courts (grants are available for sports changing rooms/pavilions and, from the LTA, for the latter). The sale of the Craythorne Fields recreation site would allow the Parish Council to contribute to the purchase of the playing fields. [It is also understood that Burton Rugby Club are considering selling their centre-of-town facilities and seeking an alternative site. The money released in the sale of their present ground would easily equate to that required to purchase the Rolleston playing field site from the College – though it is appreciated that this would add a totally different dimension to the discussions.]

  6. It is understood that the original Compulsory Purchase Order of the “College Playing Fields” to acquire the site from the Robinson farming family for the Forest of Needwood School could make house building on the playing fields more difficult, due to the rules applicable to CPOs

Within all of this, RCT feels strongly that moves should be made urgently to finalise a Plan for the Site incorporating its lasting use for sport and the physical activity of the people of Rolleston (and maybe of its close neighbours) – and which would compensate its youth and others for the loss of the previous school and college facilities.

We ask the Parish Council to accelerate consideration of these points. RCT would be pleased to play its part in the planning and development of such a scheme.

Signed by Chairman & Vice-Chairman, Rolleston Civic Trust

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Parish Council Position (Rollestonian Article - Summer 2004)

The Parish Council recently held a meeting when the future of the College Playing Field was the only item on the Agenda. This meeting was arranged following receipt of a letter from the Civic Trust asking the Council to consider an action plan for the future of the field.

Once the Education Buildings had been demolished and planning permission given for the Westbury Homes Estate on the brownfield site, the Council was advised that the remainder of the land would no longer be considered as playing fields in planning terms.

It is the Borough Council’s policy to safeguard Greenfield Sites and the Playing Fields are not included in the current Local Plan. This does not prevent a developer submitting a planning application and going to appeal if the Borough Council refused the application.

Although at the present time, land can only be included in the Local Plan at the review stage, Central Government is changing this procedure to speed up the process.

In the Council’s debate, members considered that the Playing Field was safe from development at the present time but this position is unpredictable for the future. With these thoughts in mind, the Council discussed how best it could safeguard as much of the land as possible for the village.

Many avenues are being and have been explored including finding funding for the possible purchase of the College Field. Realistically the field is a very large area and a complete picture of its possible uses would need to be collated.

The Parish Council is taking professional advice to help with the exploration of the various options.

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More Housing on the College Playing Fields? (Rollestonian Article - Summer 2004)

Conscious of time drawing on with regard to the development of possible plans by the College for this important site, Rolleston Civic Trust wrote a letter to the Parish Council with the intention of putting the topic firmly back on the Village agenda. A copy of this letter is given below.

Following receipt of this, the Parish Council decided to hold a special Parish Council Meeting on 21 April. A supporting letter had also been received from the Village Design Statement Group suggesting the further steps that should be taken. 

The meeting discussed the relevance of the current Village envelope with regard to the limitation that it presented to further development and it was felt that, under the new government policy for housing space, the Borough Council Local Plan and its envelope for the Village only offered a short-term constraint which could possibly be lifted at any time becoming replaced by a new rolling Plan.

Discussion then went on to deal with the extent to which the Village should and could prepare its own scheme (bearing in mind the large number of legal, planning and financial considerations involved). Finally, a vote was taken on this and there was a majority approval for setting up an informal meeting with the College, regardless of a defined Village-based scheme for the site, to discuss the possible ways forward which could be of benefit to the Village as well as to the College.

The Civic Trust letter would therefore seem at least to have produced a commitment from the Parish Council to early discussions on the future of the site. 

Rolleston Civic Trust would be interested to receive comments from the people of Rolleston on this important issue, and suggest they send their views via the Feedback Form on the Village Website or by post to Helen Richardson, the Secretary of Rolleston Civic Trust, Apple Acres, Knowles Hill.

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College Playing Fields (Parish Council Newsletter - Rollestonian Winter 2004)

As reported in the Summer Rollestonian the Parish Council held a meeting to discuss the future of the College Playing Field following receipt of a letter from the Civic Trust. At this meeting many concerns were discussed but it was concluded that the Parish Council should talk to Burton College to see what options the village has. The Parish Council is in a very difficult position as there is no clear view and there are many opinions to what is the best approach.

The Parish Council has agreed to support the Borough Council’s Local Plan which at this point in time contains no designated land in the village available for development. However, there are many concerns that this may not be the case in the future and for this reason, the Parish Council agreed to hold informal talks with Burton College. One proposal was that part of the playing field could be developed for a new single sited Community School in conjunction with more housing was discussed. However, Staffordshire Education Authority has so far not confirmed whether there is any interest in this project. The Parish Council will endeavor to keep residents informed on this complex situation. Should you have any views you wish the Council to consider then these should be addressed to the Clerk at 55, The Lawns.

(NB. On Tuesday 10 August a meeting took place with Mr. K. Norris, Principal of Burton College, Mr. A. Plumb, DPDS, the Parish Council Chairman and Clerk where the future of the college playing field was discussed.

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New Home For Primary School?

The Burton Mail (26 Nov 2004) reported that the village primary school could be relocated as part of new proposals for the college playing field. Read the full Burton Mail article here.

However, according to a follow up report in the Burton Mail (30 Nov), East Staffordshire borough councillor Frank Bather claimed that proposals for a replacement school will never get off the ground.

Bob Fraser, chairman of governors at the John of Rolleston Primary School, hit back at the claims (Burton Mail - 3 Dec), saying that if plans to build a replacement school on the former Burton College playing field, in Station Road go ahead, it will bring "untold benefits" to everyone.

An article in Burton Mail (8 Dec) quotes ESBC council leader Alex Fox as saying that such a scheme does not fit in with planners' aims for the borough and would therefore fail to meet approval. It states that they have no desire to join the villages of Rolleston and Stretton and that the "vital" open space should be protected.

In a letter to Rolleston Parish Council (and reported in the Burton Mail, 15 Dec), Mr Traves, corporate director for education at Staffordshire County Council said: "At present we have no plans to amalgamate the split-site primary school onto one site. Although this would be desirable from an education perspective, we cannot see any likely opportunity of receiving a Department for Education and Skills grant in order for this to happen. Our formal position is therefore that the school will remain within current facilities."

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Return to Planning Matters or Parish Council News 2004

© Richard Bush

Last updated: 17 December 2004