In July 2021, North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) listed Fletton Field as an Asset of Community Value. This means that if the landowner wishes to sell, they are obliged to give notice to the local authority. Community groups can then trigger a six month moratorium in order to raise the funds necessary to purchase the asset.
In Fletton Field’s case, the landowner is NNC, which inherited it from the former Northamptonshire County Council. Fletton Field has been in public ownership since 1899 when it was sold to Oundle’s Guardians of the Poor as open space for the workhouse. In 1929, the poor law unions were abolished and their responsibilities and assets were transferred to the county councils. This is when Northamptonshire County Council acquired the land.
Until 2016, Fletton Field was used as a playing field for the primary school.
The campaign to save Fletton Field began in 2016 when the primary school moved to Cotterstock Road, and Fletton Field was redundant as the school playing field. Since then, Northamptonshire County Council submitted two outline planning applications to develop the field, both of which were rejected.
Fletton Field has remained open to the public, however the threat of sale and development and lack of control by the people of Oundle has hung over the field for many years.
Oundle Mayor, Cllr Ian Clark says: “Fletton Field has a chequered history, but at present there is real hope that it might be heading into a golden age. NNC have flown their green flag with their NNClimate21 conference, and the message from that was the importance of open space.”
A community group, supported by Oundle Town Council, Oundle Business Association, Transition Oundle, Oundle’s unitary authority councillors and Oundle School, is currently putting together a plan to present to NNC that proposes that the field be leased to the community group. The community group would enable the 1.7 acre field to be used for a range of local green and youth activities, as well as general public open space. Their aim is to provide Oundle with one of the leading shared spaces in the region.
The group hopes to have Fletton Field at the centre of Oundle’s Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, with trees planted as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. The plan also includes a potential name change to Jubilee Field.