Passionate pleas have been made by Lancaster residents in a bid to stop green spaces being turned into new council house developments.
Residents on the Ridge and the Marsh have spoken out against proposals to build new council properties on ‘priceless’ and ‘loved’ areas of green space, that provide places for children to learn about nature and communities to spend time together.
City council officers have been working on locating space for up to £8.5m worth of new council houses, largely due to a desperate need for one-bedroom properties.
Julia Russell, who lives in Furness Street, said at a cabinet meeting at Morecambe Town Hall on Tuesday that building on precious green space near her home would ‘rip the heart out of our community’.
One of these areas was a play area and parking area in Charnley Street and Furness Street, which is big enough for 12 one-bedroom flats.
Julia Russell said: “The Marsh area of Lancaster has been described as ‘deficient of green space’ in one study.
“Since that study 500 new properties have been built, but not a single metre of public space has been allocated.
“We’re aware of the pressure of housing targets, but fulfilling housing targets should not be at the expense of this.
“Andrew Dobson (head of regeneration of planning at Lancaster City Council) called us a unique community - what we have is priceless.
“To build on this land would wrip the heart out of our community.”
City coun Karen Leytham, who is responsible for housing, announced at the meeting that the plans for Furness Street/Charnley Street had been removed from the proposals due to “lack of alternative play provision”.
But this was little comfort for residents in Crag Road and Honister Road however, where plans for up to 55 new homes on what locals call Ridge Hill Green, have been taken to the next level.
The council will now spend £192,000 on a feasibility study to make the land “construction ready”.
Honister Road resident Joe Tamassy said after the meeting that this meant it was virtually a “done deal”, despite councillors saying none of the sites may be suitable.
He questioned the need to spend such a large sum of money if the land might not even be built on.
He added: “This council is clearly not interested in the well-being of the residents and their children.
“You don’t destroy established places, you create new ones. We need to vote in councillors that are interested in their residents.”
Crag Road resident Christine Bailey added: “It gives us the opportunity to feel rich, but not in the materialistic sense.
“It should be a human right to have access to open green space.
“This land is loved by all of the 200 people who are asking you not to take our field away from us.
“This is the only place our children can play safely.
“If this was taken away, where would they go to play?”
Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox asked councillors to remove the Honister Road plans, but this was overruled by a majority vote.
He also said that he strongly supported future plans to re-develop Ridge Square, which he said had been described as “like a set from Shameless”.
He added: “The Honister Road site has an important role in providing open space and play facilities for the local area.”
Councillors agreed to visit all of the sites being proposed, which also includes Windermere Road, in Carnforth, and asked officers to suggest alternative sites for council houses as well.