The Fletton playing field, a large grassy expanse just off Milton Road, has been used recreationally by local residents for many years now. As well as being used for various sporting activities by local schools, the plot is also regularly used by the people of Oundle for a variety of other pastimes.
However, with the threat of the sale and development of the land by the county council, Oundle Town Council has decided to act to protect the field by applying for the land to be given ‘Village Green’ status.
Legally defined in 1965, a ‘Village Green’ is a plot of land that is allotted for the ‘exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality’. It is a place where the members of a town and village have the right to indulge in any sports or pastime without needing to ask for any permission to do so.
Before 1965, open spaces within a village or town were considered communal assets that a community was able to share and enjoy, however, there was no legal bond to protect these spaces. This meant that any green space was at risk of being developed.
If granted Village Green status, any open space is protected from development, and this is exactly what Oundle Town Council is trying to achieve.
The green in the council’s focus at the moment, Fletton playing field off Milton Road, has been used by the people of Oundle for decades as a site for numerous community events such as bonfire nights and sporting events. Local schools have used the field for sports matches and training, making good use of the plot’s accessibility in the centre of town.
Now, after being given a twelve month notice in February by Northamptonshire County Council, the OTC has decided to act. Led by councillor and chair of the Oundle Recreation and Green Spaces group, Julie Grove, Oundle has begun its efforts to gain Village Green status, alongside over 3500 other village greens in England.
By gathering evidence as well as support from the community, Grove and the other councillors hope to prove the importance of the paddock to safeguard its future and prevent its removal.
Julie Grove said: ‘The plot is on the council’s list of potential areas to sell off for building developments. It is therefore crucial to have the application granted before any such action can take place.’
The council feel confident that they will succeed in their efforts, especially considering the plentiful amount of evidence available to prove that the field is worthy of Village Green status.