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Anger at council plans to sell open space land to developers

Hyndburn council is consulting on disposals of 16 acres of land at Highams Playing Fields and near Bullough Park

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Highams Playing Fields in Accrington.

Council plans to sell off areas of public open space in Accrington for housing have met with anger.

Hyndburn council has published two separate ‘disposal of open space’ notices relating to 3.8 acres of land near Bullough Park, and 12.2 acres of Highams Playing Fields - the latter as part of the controversial Accrington Stanley Community Trust development.

The Ferngore Residents Association is seeking a meeting with ward councillors as it opposes the disposal of the smaller site, north of Miller Fold Avenue and east of Willows Lane.

Protestors outside Accrington Town Hall opposing plans to create a £2 million sports hub on Highams Playing Fields.

Chairman John Drinkwater claimed the land was part of Woodnook Vale Nature Reserve - but this was refuted by council leader Miles Parkinson.

Mr Drinkwater said: “Bullough Park was left to the residents of Ferngore, not the council.

“A lot of people come and walk there, it is a big nature trail. People are quite angry about it, you can’t sell land you don’t own. There will probably be protests.”

But Coun Parkinson said the land was a former tip site allocated for housing back in 1996.

He said: “This does not affect the nature reserve. It was a landfill site many years ago. It’s near to the park and the nature reserve so it’s an ideal site to bring up a family.”

He said it was ‘not a major site’, and was suitable for about 40 houses.

Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson.

The Save Highams Playing Fields campaign group has urged its supporters to object to the Highams disposal.

The £2.5m sports hub development at Highams was granted planning permission last December, after 71 objections along with 97 letters of support, and Fields in Trust gave its consent in April.

Reiterating the reason for the sale, Coun Gareth Molineux, cabinet member for leisure, said: “To maintain land such as Highams Playing Fields is not something the council can do. Council resources are scarce, the revenue budget is shrinking year on year. The land will still be used by the public. It is a win-win, residents will have FA-standard facilities, Accrington Stanley can benefit and help the youth of the borough.”

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Anyone wishing to object to either land disposal has been given until Monday, July 23. Email corporateproperty@hyndburnbc.gov.uk.

Final decisions will then be made by the Cabinet. For more information call the council’s property manager on 01254 380232.