Fears grow over padlocked Mansfield park future

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CAMPAIGNING residents will press ahead with plans to secure the future of Forest Road Park as fears grow that it will be sold for housing.

The Friends of Forest Road Park group was set up by angry residents after a section of the park was padlocked off in June to allow Mansfield Town FC to train.

Despite protests, the gates remain locked, but there are serious concerns that the council will sell the land to developers.

Group chairman Janet Saunders has received documents outlining the park’s cricket pitch as a site for a potential 117 properties as part of Mansfield District Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) reports- land highlighted as suitable for development.

Meanwhile, an application has been submitted to the council to extend the permission to build 107 homes on Mansfield Sand, just off Sandhurst Avenue. It was first given in January 2010, but it has yet to be developed.

But the renewed plans include extra entrances, with two pencilled in near to the cricket pitch. The Friends say it is further evidence the land could be sold off, and say they need to work quickly to apply to have the park given a village-green status to help protect it.

Chairman Janet Saunders said: “The issue is no not just the gates, it was obviously a means to an end for the council.

“I was rather angry when I saw the paperwork [of the SHLAA report].

“We are going to press ahead with the village green open space application- it may be difficult and time consuming but I do believe we have to go down that route.”

In response, Martyn Saxton, head of planning and regulatory services at Mansfield District Council, said: “The cricket field to the rear of the Mansfield Sand site has been identified within the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) as possibly being maybe suitable for development.

“The aim of SHLAA is to identify and assesses the potential housing land supply within the district.

“This SHLAA provides a list of potential housing sites which have been assessed against certain criteria and existing Local Plan Policies.

“It is important to stress that the SHLAA document does not allocate land for development, as this will be undertaken through policies as part of the Local Plan process.

“These sites, along with any further sites promoted in the future, will need to be considered against any new policies agreed through the Local Plan process. It should be noted that if a site has been categorised in SHLAA as suitable, or maybe suitable, it does not mean that planning permission would automatically be granted.

“In certain circumstances, a site which has been assessed as being unsuitable may be granted planning permission in the future if sufficient information was provided to support the proposal. On this basis, no guarantee can be given at this time regarding the likelihood, or otherwise, of this site ever getting planning permission for housing development.”