Hopes build for community adoption of Fletton Field

Plans are gathering ground to give Fletton Field a new lease of life as a green space for the community. The Fletton Field Association has now been formally established as a legal entity, meaning it has a constitution and is able to hold its own funds. In the last year, the association has prepared a business plan and submitted it to North Northamptonshire Council (NNC).

Paul Eveleigh, chair of the Fletton Field Association committee, said: “All three councillors have been supportive and provided helpful feedback. Our next steps will be to follow the formal process for NNC to consider our proposals and we hope for an early decision in our favour so that we can begin to implement our plans.”

With the assistance of a landscape designer, they have also prepared a vision for the field’s future, including a wildflower meadow, fire pit, picnic area and a yoga and tai chi area. The full plan is available to download on their website: saveflettonfield.org.uk.

Fletton Field has been public land since 1899, when it was sold to Oundle’s Guardians of the Poor for use as allotments for the workhouse. Most of the workhouse buildings have been demolished, however the Town Council’s offices, Fletton House, and the public library were previously part of the complex. In 1930, workhouses were abolished and Fletton Field passed to Northamptonshire County Council. Last year, Northamptonshire County Council was abolished, and the land is now owned by NNC.

Since Fletton Field ceased to be used as a primary school playing field in 2016, community groups have been campaigning for it to be protected as an open space. A number of planning applications have been submitted for the field, however they have all been rejected. As things stand currently, Fletton Field is not needed to meet Oundle’s commitments for new housing. In fact, development plans designate Fletton Field as Local Green Space.

Last year, Fletton Field was registered with North Northamptonshire Council as an Asset of Community Value. This status allows community groups to trigger a moratorium if the owner wishes to sell the asset.

In July 2021, Oundle Town Council requested that NNC transfer the land to them to ensure that the field is protected for the town. However, an alternative suggested in the Fletton Field business plan is for NNC to grant a peppercorn lease to the town council for five years, before a formal review is conducted. If progress were to be made with the business plan and community use demonstrated, NNC would then permanently transfer the field to the town.

In the meantime, Oundle Town Council and the Fletton Field Association were granted permission to use the field as part of the Jubilee celebrations on 4th June. There were bands playing, a live feed of the Platinum Jubilee Concert from Buckingham Palace, and food and drink stands.

All are welcome to join the Fletton Field Association as a ‘Friend of Fletton Field’. Details are available on the website (saveflettonfield.org.uk) as to how to get involved with the campaign.

Robert Foskett
June 2022