No new homes to built on Burnley schools’ playing fields

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FEARS that green fields surrounding two former schools will be carved up for development have been allayed.

Neighbours of the redundant Ivy Bank and Habergham school sites voiced concerns that recreational land used by children and families would be sold off to build new homes.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and local ward councillors proclaimed they had won the fight to protect the green spaces against the threat of development.

But bosses at County Hall confirmed that, while their ultimate aim is to sell off both sites, there were never proposals to build on the school fields.

The Liberal Democrat MP wrote a letter of objection to Lancashire County Council about the issue.

He said: “These vital green fields provide the community with an area that can be used for sports activities or social events. As this area of my constituency is heavily urbanised, it is of great importance this land remains in the public domain. I am extremely grateful to those councillors who have secured its survival.”

But County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet member for children and schools, said: “I am assured there are no current proposals to build on the fields attached to the former Ivy Bank and Habergham school site.

“The county council wishes to sell the site, which we no longer need following completion of the £250m. Building Schools for the Future programme in Burnley, but we must first obtain permission from the Secretary of State to sell any land which includes school playing fields. We are currently awaiting this.”

She said that if permission was granted, the county council would seek outline planning permission from Burnley Council for the areas covered by the former school buildings and immediate surroundings only.

She added: “The site would then be placed on the market and any further planning issues would be decided by Burnley Council.”

Yvonne Drinkwater, a mother-of-two from Printers Fold, welcomed the news. She said: “I went to Ivy Bank more than 30 years ago and it was always green fields and we wanted it to stay that way.

“My concerns were that our children would have nowhere to play out – we live on a family-orientated estate and that area is used to play football and ball games.

“It is good news that it is going to be saved.”