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Fears over sell off of playing fields

PUBLISHED: 02:26 27 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

RESIDENTS today spoke of their concern after learning a Suffolk village's playing fields could be sold off for housing.

Land in Church Lane, Stonham Parva, is being put forward as a site for a possible residential development.

RESIDENTS today spoke of their concern after learning a Suffolk village's playing fields could be sold off for housing.

Land in Church Lane, Stonham Parva, is being put forward as a site for a possible residential development.

Mid Suffolk District Council, who own the land, hope it will be included in the forthcoming local development framework.

If successful, this would pave the way for a housing developer to move on to the site, while bringing in much-needed revenue to the cash-strapped authority.

But Grant Reynolds, head of social and economic strategy at the council, said the intention is to leave the bulk of the playing field untouched, despite submitting plans to have the entire field allocated for housing development.

"The land is all in our ownership but our intention is to focus on the northern end and not take away any of the playing field," he said.

"We recognise the value of open land but we've included all it in the bid as a matter of course."

He added the land under consideration could be used for affordable housing if developed.

The possibility of losing their playing field has concerned residents in the area, who were completely unaware of the secret discussions.

Ashley Ling, 18, of Church Lane, Stonham Parva, played on the fields as a child and wants her six-month-old daughter, Laura, to be able to do the same.

She said: "It's the only place where the children can play safely in the whole village.

"I've lived here since I was five and I always played on the field. I want to daughter to as well."

Geoffrey Clarke, 38, also of Church Lane, said: "I think everyone in the village would fight the plans if they did try to build on the field.

"I honestly don't think they would get away with it. People would be horrified."

Tania Ling, a parish councillor, was shocked when told of the proposals, but supported the idea of creating more affordable housing in the village.

She said: "It would be nice if they could build some low-cost housing in the area, but we don't want them to take away our playing fields.

"We've got a lot of young people in the village who congregate on the field. If the field was lost, they'd have nowhere to go."

The council-owned piece of land is one of a number currently under consideration for sale by the authority as it considers the best uses of its assets.

All the bids are seeking inclusion in the local development framework, which is likely to be complete by the end of this year and will decide on the areas of land that can be developed over the next decade.

N What do you think of the proposal to sell the land off? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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