Plans of village green preservation society

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Have your say

Residents can have their say on the future of the green and pleasant land at the centre of Steyning’s heart.

The Friends of Memorial Playing Field (FMPF) have officially applied for the unprotected part Memorial Playing Field (MPF) to be given village green status.

The plans are available to view at the Steyning Centre until December 13, and a decision is expected next year.

Peter Comber, FMPF chairman, said: “We would ask people to support it.

“It will prevent urbanisation and development on the village green, it would stop any part of it being sold off , or any more encroachment.

“The tennis courts and the bowling green have already encroached upon the green.”

Half of the MPF has been registered as a village green since 1974, but the Rublees Field and Nursery were acquired later and it is these areas for which the group has applied for village green status.

Preserving the area for the town and its residents, both current and future, was extremely important, said Mr Comber.

“We can use it as an area for lots of lovely sports. It’s good to have a central area for kids to have their ball games,” he said.

“It’s beautiful and we want to keep that view, we want to keep it for everyone.”

The move was born of the on-going argument over the siting of a skate park in the field, which has bitterly divided the town.

The parish council, which gained planning permission for the facility, subject to a number of conditions including the commission of a further noise report, has welcomed to application.

Members say, though, that village green status would not stop the park going ahead.

Mr Comber reiterated status would stop the “urbanisation” of the field.

“It is am important area, because of its charm,” he said.

“It’s not only for sports. People go there for quiet picnics and for contemplation.

“If you have a lot of noisy stuff going on all the time, you could ruin the ambience,” he told the Herald.

Even if the Friends fail to stop the skate park, they say they want to help protect the rest of the MPF, and have offered to be the “eyes and the ears” of the parish council, providing local knowledge from nearby residents and offering advice to help future decision making.

Explaining the process of achieving the status , Mr Comber said: “It’s a bit like a planning application. People can make comments, or raise objections.

“We will either hear in the spring, or later in the summer time. We would like it quicker, but there are a lot of other people making village green applications.”

West Sussex County Council will take the decision, once the public consultation has closed.

To view the plans, go to the Steyning Centre, between 9am and 1pm, Monday to Thursday, until December 13.

They can also be seen on the council’s website, at www.steyningpc.gov.uk

The next full meeting of the council will be at the centre on Monday, starting at 7.30pm.