PLANS: Field is a precious community asset

As a resident of Hillheads Estate, I am shocked and distressed at the council’s attempts to sell land beside Charlton Court for development.

This is our only open space, and our children and grandchildren play safely there as the field is overlooked by houses on all sides and there are always eyes looking out for them. They play football and run around in the fresh air, socialising and keeping healthy.

Adults of all ages walk their dogs and chat to each other. This field keeps the community together.

We had no idea that it was under threat.

It was designated Green Open Space on the Unitary Development Plan and protected against development.

Despite the fact that it is protected and no development is permitted, it is now listed on the Draft Local Plan as suitable for housing.

How can this be? Selling this land goes against the council’s own policies, which state: “Children need space to play within their home neighbourhood. Young adults need space to play sport and socialise without disturbing younger children and residents.”

National Planning Policy paragraph 73 states: “Access to high quality open space and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of communities.”

We know this is true as this field contributes to our health and wellbeing.

It is a precious community resource, used daily for the past 70 years, from early morning to late at night. It’s the heart and soul of the estate, a breathing space allowing release of tensions and reducing social isolation. We have ethnic minorities from many countries and the field allows different cultures to meet and mix.

Hedgehogs and bats are frequently seen.

In addition, when the land for this estate was conveyed for housing in 1945, the Duke of Northumberland stipulated that open land was for the use of the inhabitants of the area.

The estate was planned with this recreational open space, and had a row of shops. It is already more densely populated than planned, with sheltered housing on part of the field, and all the shops have been converted to flats.

Any development would result in children playing in the streets, increased traffic flow on these same streets, dogs being walked on pavements, increased tensions with neighbours, loss of view, and loss of amenity.

It would mean an increased density of population, while at the same time a total loss of all recreational space.

This is madness and a recipe for disaster in the health and wellbeing of our community.

This green space is the only amenity which remains for over 3,000 people on this estate.

North Tyneside average open space provision is 2.56 hectares per 1,000 population; Monkseaton has 0.64 hectares per 1,000.

Our online petition has 788 signatures up to now and we have protested at every consultation meeting. Around 100 protest letters went to the council and many people objected online. We need to protest again when the draft plan consultation begins in November, and again when the planning application goes in.

Protest letters from even more local people would be appreciated. The petition is on Facebook at Save Our Field Charlton Court. Let’s hope the council listens.

Janice Hutt

Address supplied