Protecting green open spaces

May 30, 2011 5:10 PM

Last year a lot of local controversy was caused over the use of green open spaces in the Westerhope area. These are, quite understandably, valued by people who live locally, but many people also recognise that the issue was "stirred up" by people for reasons of their own.

There were never any decisions to commit all or even part of the land at the Parkway for housing. Once it became clear that the Catholic Diocese was interested in the site for a possible expansion for the St John Vianney School, then that became the priority for first consideration and it is now safeguarded as such. The formerChapelParkMiddle Schoolsite is still education land, and the current view is still that the fence around it will remain until a decision for the long-term use of the land is made. We trust that the new Labour Council will honour these commitments.

Contrary to misleading reports last year, the council had not been seeking or encouraging development on Chadderton Field. Just a few months ago the Liberal Democrat Council gave the go-ahead for the registration of Chadderton Field as a "Village Green". The site is owned by the original developers of the Chapel House Estate, but has been maintained by the Council. Local residents led by Ron Scott campaigned for the registration and submitted the application to the council, which it was happy to support.

Patrick Morrissey, the Lib Dem candidate for Westerhope, explains : "A Village Green can be registered under the Commons Act of 2006. Although it remains within the existing ownership, the land becomes subject to the rights of local residents to use the land for recreational 'sports and pastimes'. The land now becomes protected under two statutes of the 19th century from having its use or enjoyment being interrupted or from being built or enclosed, other than for the purposes of 'better enjoyment' of the green."