As you may know our application for Haywood Road Bowling Green to be given ‘Local Green Space’ designation was turned down by Gedling Borough Council planners. On Wednesday 22 March the hearing took place to appeal that decision. The bowling green already has ‘Protected Open Space’ status but unfortunately that does not prevent it from being built on.
Presenting our case were local residents Nicky Drury and Richard Cooper (who is also a planning expert) who both did a superb job of putting forward the importance of this green space to the community, the strength of feeling among local residents and it’s potential for the future as a community asset.
Gedling Borough Council planners said that they were standing by their decision not to award Local Green Space designation because they feel that the site already has the protection it needs. An independent inspector heard both sides and the report will be published within around 3-4 months.
In the meantime Labour are pushing forward with the plans to sell the site to a housing developer despite the strength of local feeling and the dire lack of public green space in Porchester Gardens, as identified in Gedling Borough Council’s own published reports. The council stated they intend to apply for planning permission to build on the bowling green in around six months’ time.
Below is Nicky’s speech to the inspector:
Gedling Local Planning Document Examination: Hearing week 3
Matter 16: Open Space – issue 16a: Open Space and Local Green Space
Why do we The Friends of Haywood Road Community Centre (and bowling green) think that Gedling Borough Council should give this green space Designated Local Green Space Status?
Firstly just like to say thank you to GBC planners (and the inspector?) for inviting us to this hearing and allowing us to put over our point of view. They were also very helpful in guiding us through the process of putting in the amendment to the local plan initially and communicating with us about this hearing. I don’t want to talk for long (I am sure you are pleased to hear) but I want to say briefly
- why this space is special to the local community
- why we felt the need to request Local Green Space Designation Status now
- give you an idea of the size of the support for retaining this small green area
- ideas for expanding it’s potential for ‘green lung’ for area – linking to the particular history of the ‘Porchester Gardens Estate’
Porchester gardens is an urban area bounded by very busy roads, the only access to public green space without crossing these was the bowling green on Haywood Road. The bowling green was established in 1961 and for over 55 years, the green could be accessed whenever the bowlers were playing/practising (their season ran from April to September with 5 matches a week, half of them at home, plus Monday practice night and open sessions at weekends).. Local people would often watch the bowlers either by going in to sit and have a moments relaxation or simply by looking through the gate at the bowlers or just the green if they weren’t playing.
This small green space impacts on local residents and encourages them to choose to walk, run or cycle deliberately altering their route to pass this peaceful spot that acts as the only public green lung for the Porchester Gardens area. This space might not look like much but as the only public green space in the area it has great value to the Porchester community, if you like it feels like our ‘village green’.
So why did we feel the need to put in an amendment to the local plan requesting that the green space occupied by the bowling green was given Local Green Space Designation rather than the protection it currently has under policy LPD20? In May 2016 a rumour went around the area that the bowling green was to be sold for housing. Several organisations sprang up in the Porchester Community in response to this and contact was made with the bowlers who confirmed that GBC had told them they could not lease the green from September 2016. The bowlers were angry and demoralised and felt they had no alternative other than to make arrangements so they had somewhere to bowl next season. Since this time GBC has made public its plan to sell the bowling green site for housing.
The importance of the space to the local community has been made clear by the size of the opposition to building on the site and enthusiasm for alternative development and use of the site as a public open space. This has involved a community party covered by local newspapers, Radio Nottingham, Notts TV and BBC News, letter-writing, petitioning on-line and face to face and social media. The Feb 2nd cabinet report for GBC listed 1456 respondents opposing the disposal of the Haywood Rd site, of which 821 recorded concern over the irreversible loss of the last area of open green space.
The Haywood Road Community Centre which was also under threat is to have a new committee and steering group due to start from April this year and GBC has indicated that it is transferring the ownership of the building to the group as part of their Community Asset Transfer policy. This group has worked with GreenScene Education, a local green not for profit enterprise, who have drawn up a number of exciting proposals for the space which will retain it as a ‘green lung’ for the local community but also link into the historic nature of the original Porchester Gardens and promote community cohesion. The proposal involves part of the land being given over to allotments and a community garden, recognising and celebrating the historical roots of Porchester Gardens (once thought so ground breaking that the prime minister even visited the area in 1889).
Part of the site will also be turned into a recreational space for young and old to enjoy – GBC itself identified in its 2011 review the issue of the lack of play facilities/green space accessible to this population (approx 7,500) – as the last piece of undeveloped land in the whole of Porchester Gardens, this is the only opportunity we have to provide a much needed space for our community.
The eagerness of our community to make use of this green space has already been made clear – GBC has agreed that the Haywood Road Community Association can lease the former bowling green for events this year and even before the new committee takes charge of the community centre, we have had requests from a local Farmers Market to run a monthly market on the green; Sunset Cinema based in nearby Sherwood want to stage open air cinema evenings over the summer; Turtle Lodge Tai Chi want to use the green for outdoor classes; Porchester Festival will be using the space for their annual event and we are currently organising a Big Get Together event in memory of Jo Cox as part of this national initiative.
National Planning Policy Framework indicates that “local communities….should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them”. We appeal to GBC planners to think again, take notice of the views of the people in the local area who do see this this small green space as special… because if we do not protect it now, it will be lost forever. Let us keep our ‘village green’ and allow the community to develop it’s future use to contribute further to the health and well-being and social cohesion of young and old and make important links too with previous generations.
Thank you very much for listening