SPALDING won’t lose a square metre of open green space to development without replacing it with something better, South Holland Council leader Gary Porter has pledged.
He refuted claims by Spalding Civic Society that in the wake of the Olympics the town, already 46 per cent under-provided with informal sports space, is in danger of losing still more and that “councillors and school governors seem intent on reducing it even further”.
Civic Society chairman Robert West, a former South Holland councillor, said: “We’re being told the plans for Holland Park which include the Sir Halley Stewart Field won’t be made public until a formal application is made – by then it will be too late.
“We should be discussing it now as part of a bigger picture of all the green space we still have in Spalding.
“Our open spaces are being looked at as a cash cow and not for their value to the community.”
He said the Society wrote to the Lincolnshire Free Press claiming the Sir Halley Stewart Field, the Castle Field, Chiltern Drive Playing Field and Spalding Grammar School’s West Field were all under threat in order to start a public debate about all of Spalding’s green space.
Coun Porter said this week: “The council Robert West was a member of before 1999 failed to secure the minimum requirement of public open space from developers so the town has half what it should have.
“We inherited that serious under-provision and we’ve tried to fix it by securing at least 14 percent of green space on every development.
“There are no plans to build on Castle Field and only an informal proposal on the Halley Stewart field. If that goes, we’ll ensure there is much larger, better, open provision close to Spalding and some replacement within the town centre too.
“Perhaps part of the package might be the development of better sports or athletics facilities at the Castle Field, where the old athletics track is now unuseable.
“I won’t impose a blanket ban on developing green space in Spalding to play into the headlines.
“But I can say that any loss of green space will be mitigated by a greater gain. Every change should be positive.”
Holbeach Olympian Geoff Capes, who is bringing his throwing athletics academy back to his home town from the Princess Royal Arena in Boston, is against any net loss of green space, but says provision must be controlled and monitored.
He said: “I’m all for open spaces as long as they’re properly managed. Open access can damage facilities.”.