Green space plan could save field site

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A battle over the future of a field rages on, as residents apply for it to become a protected green space.

The Friends of Sheepbridge Fields have been involved in a ‘David and Goliath’ struggle with site owners, GKN, since the company announced the closure of the recreation site, off Newbold Back Lane, Chesterfield in May 2008.

A public inquiry was held in December 2011 over the use of the site as a village green, but last month Derbyshire County Council voted in favour of GKN, who have owned the site since the takeover of Sheepbridge Works in 1970.

The Friends argued that the site had been used as a public right of way for 20 years, between 1988 and 2008 – the required time for village green status to be granted.

But in the inquiry report, the council’s director of legal services, John McElvaney, said:

“There is insufficient evidence of qualifying use of the application land for lawful sports and pastimes having taken place over the relevant 20 year period to justify it being registered as a town or village green.”

Following the decision, Karen Undrell of the friends – who has used the field for recreation for , said: “We have not given up, we are looking down other avenues. We have carried out a survey of the field and over 100 people a day are using the site.”

Karen, of Westview Close, added that the group have now applied to Chesterfield Borough Council for local green space designation for the site, which would rule out new development except in special circumstances.

It is thought that GKN intend to sell the site to a developerfor housing.

GKN did not wish to make any comment on the latest move by the Friends of Sheepbridge.