Salford mayor steps in to protect historic playing fields

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SALFORD’S City Mayor has intervened to dispel fears that historic Duncan Matheson playing fields in the Claremont area are to be developed into a housing estate.

The Duncan Matheson playing fields off Lancaster Road are owned by a local charity, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Manchester, and have been derelict for nine years due to a long-running dispute over how best to develop the land.

Following a recent consultation on what to do with the fields, a proposal submitted by the charity and Barratt Homes suggested that the land should be developed for housing along with the neighbouring school playing fields, which are owned by the council.

“It irritates people round here very much that the fields have been allowed to fall into disrepair.”

-Keith Ivison

However, the proposal was met with fierce resistance by Ward Councillors and local residents, and a public meeting held to discuss the matter attracted over 300 people.

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “We understand that the charity needs to raise money but we cannot afford to lose playing pitches in this part of the city. We have no plans to sell the Lancaster Road playing fields which we own.

paulmayor

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett

“Although our planners need to consider the charity and Barratt Homes proposal properly, I think it’s a non-starter.”

The council’s official position is that there is a shortage of playing fields throughout the city.

Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning and sustainable development, said: “We have had hundreds of responses to the Local Plan draft proposals including one which goes against our suggestion to improve and bring back into use the playing fields. We will have to consider that response like any other.

“We do need to work with partners to see how best we can make the playing fields usable. If we can’t find a way to do that, a government planning inspector may decide housing is the only viable use.”

There have been numerous attempts throughout the years to refurbish the playing fields, including converting it into a golf course, but they have all been rejected by residents.

Speaking at a previous meeting on the subject, pensioner Keith Ivison, 85, said: “The fields were given to the public to play on and have been well used by the community over the years.

“It irritates people round here very much that the fields have been allowed to fall into disrepair.”

 

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