Future of playing fields discussed

IT may only be seven houses now, but how many will there be on Ipswich's Ellenbrook Road playing field in years to come?That was the question worrying many people who flocked to the public meeting held in the Belstead Arms, Ellenbrook Green last night.

IT may only be seven houses now, but how many will there be on Ipswich's Ellenbrook Road playing field in years to come?

That was the question worrying many people who flocked to the public meeting held in the Belstead Arms, Ellenbrook Green last night.

People were anxious to voice their concerns at Suffolk County Council's plans to devote 15 per cent of the playing field to housing.

The playing field, owned by Chantry High School, has not been used by the school for over 20 years, but is used by the people in the area.


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However, the school wants to sell the playing field to raise money for new school and community sports facilities.

The county council therefore plans to build seven houses on the land and transfer the rest to Ipswich Borough Council as public open space.

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Conservative borough councillor Gordon Terry, speaking at the meeting, said that building houses on Ellenbrook Road playing field was a slippery downhill slope.

"Chantry deserves all it can get," he said. "But we must also ask what is going to happen to the remainder. What is the future? Ipswich Borough Council is not terribly good with playing fields."

This was a concern echoed by many at the meeting.

Peter Leek, 46, of Belmont Road, said: "It is not so much the seven houses I object to, it is that over the past 10 years they have developed Thorington Hall, Pinebrook, the field in between Pinewood and Sprites Lane and the Belstead Hills.

"All they have done is build houses and not community facilities. Any new community sports facilities at Chantry High will be over a mile away. Children cannot go there by themselves."

Andrew McManus, 21, of Sheldrake Drive, had similar concerns: "I have lived here all my life and I have watched open spaces disappear. A lot of it has gone unnoticed.

"If they build seven houses, who is to say it won't be seven more a year later, and then seven more the year after."

Ipswich Conservatives handed a 420-strong petition protesting at the county council's plans to the borough council on Tuesday .

But Labour borough councillors insisted the matter had been subject to a public consultation.

John Le Grys, Labour borough councillor for Sprites ward, speaking outside the meeting, said: "The school is supposed to have done a consultation – mainly with the parents, I suppose. We are handing out consultation leaflets now."

He also insisted that the remainder of the field would be protected as open space.

"If the playing field is built upon," he said. "The remainder will be handed over to the borough council, but stipulated as public open space, so that the borough council cannot sell it off."

Chantry High needs the money from the sale – which is believed to be around £300,000 – in order to get matching lottery funding.

The county council's planning application will be considered by Ipswich planners in August or September.

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