Press Release |
April 5th, 2011
community campaigners and borough council chiefs have found a way
forward to ensure their football pitch remains open to local
A top-level meeting
between council leaders, officials, local councillors and Doxey
community representatives exceeded all expectations on Friday, April
1st. Hopes are high that the football pitch can be
safeguarded and further recreation improvements achieved.
told Doxey Parish Council in November 2010 it wanted to sell its land
south of the main road in Doxey, including the football pitch, to
Bellway Homes. It was therefore terminating the parish council’s
lease on the pitch.
Representatives of Play
Space 4 Doxey and local borough councillors Peter Goodland and
Isabella Davies and Doxey parish vice-chairman David Adams learned on
Friday that planning officers of Stafford Borough Council had
recently had informal discussions with Bellway Homes with a view to
the firm drawing up a planning application for this land.
Head of planning and
regeneration Ted Manders said the borough council started from a
presumption that the existing football pitch would remain in use,
should Bellway win planning permission for a housing development on
other parts of the site.
In the meantime the whole
site, including the football pitch, remains the property of
Saint-Gobain Abrasives, which has fenced off the land.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy
offered to write to Saint-Gobain Abrasives asking the firm to keep
the football pitch open to the people of Doxey while the planning
issues were resolved. The representatives of Play Space 4 Doxey were
pleased to accept Mr Lefroy’s offer.
parish meeting of Doxey residents in December resolved to fight for
the retention of the football pitch or its replacement by a new
facility within the parish
Planning History of Saint-Gobain Land South of Doxey
This land formed most of
29 acres (11.7 hectares) was put forward for inclusion in the
Stafford Borough Local Plan 2001, published in 1991, but later
In January 1997, the
inspector who held the public inquiry into the local plan, identified
a shortfall of provision for over 1,000 houses as being needed in
order to meet the requirements of the county structure plan. He
recommended that this site should be considered again by the council
to make up the shortfall.
In October 1998, the
borough council included this land in the approved local plan as
housing proposal HP9.
In June 1997, Unicorn
International submitted planning application 97/34923/OUT for 180
homes on this site. The houses were to be built close to the main
road through Doxey, the land further away being retained as a
wildlife habitat and football pitch, all designated as public open
In September 1999, the
development control committee resolved to grant planning permission,
subject to a Section 106 agreement. In the event this agreement was
land was acquired by Saint-Gobain and the Government revised its
planning policy guidance note on housing (PPG3). This guidance,
requiring local authorities to give preference to previously
developed land over greenfield sites, has now been rescinded.
In May 2003, the
development control committee resolved to refuse permission for
planning application 34923 on the grounds that enough brownfield land
was available to meet the requirements of the structure plan for the
construction of new houses.
Saint-Gobain appealed to
the Secretary of State but withdrew that appeal in June 2004.
In the meantime, George
Wimpey submitted planning application 02/42042/FUL for detailed
planning permission on the same land. This was refused in April
2006, largely for the same reasons as Saint-Gobain’s previous
Doxey Parish Council came
into being in April 2003 and negotiated a lease on the football pitch
In November 2010,
Saint-Gobain indicated it wished to terminate that lease in order to
sell the land to Bellway Homes. In February 2011, fencing was
erected around the land with notices stating “public access
prohibited”. A public right of way behind the Church of St Thomas
and St Andrew remains open.
The meeting at Stafford
Borough Council’s Civic Offices on Friday, April 1st,
2011, was called by Tillington borough councillors Peter Goodland and
Isabella Davies, whose ward includes the parish of Doxey.
Councillor Mike Heenan,
leader, Stafford Borough Council
Ian Thompson, chief
executive, Stafford Borough Council
Councillor Mike Smith,
Cabinet Member for leisure
Ted Manders, head of
planning and regeneration
Adam Hill, head of
leisure and culture
Jim Arnold, sports
Jeremy Lefroy MP
James Cantrill, Mr
Goodland, member for Tillington
Davies, member for Tillington
David Adams, vice
chairman Doxey Parish Council
Neil Thomas, Play Space 4
Iain Simpson, Play Space
Helen Clarke, police
community support officer and youth leader