Peterborough City Council has confirmed it will be submitting new plans following updated legal advice to erect fencing on green land adjacent to Staniland Way. Plans were originally submitted in 2019, and the proposal for 2m fencing has faced huge backlash from residents and the community.
In an email sent to Save Werrington Fields campaign group, Assistant Director: Education Capital and Place Planning, Hazel Belchamber confirmed they had reviewed the legal advice. It read: “This has led us to conclude that the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and University, Cllr Lynne Ayres, should recommend in her Cabinet Member Decision Notice that the Council should seek planning permission for a material change of use of that part of Werrington fields which would be enclosed by the fence.
“Subject to planning permission being granted and the approval from the Department to Education, the area to be enclosed would be that described as Option 2 in the background information previously circulated.” The Cabinet Member Decision notice would then be published in early January, which can be subject to scrutiny if any Peterborough city councillors request a ’call-in’ of that decision.
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In an Freedom of Information request submitted to Peterborough City Council on what the process has cost so far, it was found that £24,140 had been spent on legal and consultancy fees. Jenna Nyiak, a Werrington resident and part of the Save Werrington Fields group strongly contests the new plans. She said: “This is yet another admission that the council were trying to sneak through the fencing of Werrington fields illegally. And we also now know they kept the covenant that protected the field a secret during the last planning consultation.
“The mismanagement and blunders have cost local tax payers well in excess of £24000 so far in legal fees and consultants, and that doesn’t include the latest QC advice. To build the previously planned smaller size fence was estimated to be at £75,000 and now they have doubled the size of the area they want to take, so it will cost even more! And all this at a time when the council is suspending all projects that aren’t essential.
“With Werrington Leisure Centre being closed to the public for sole use by the school, the local community now stands to lose an even bigger part of the fields to the school too. What sporting facilities will the community have left?
“All this makes no sense when football teams of all ages continue to use the fields out of school hours for matches with no problems, while it is deemed by the headteacher to be too dangerous for students to use.” A spokesperson from Peterborough City Council said: “ We still plan to proceed with the application which will help to address a school safeguarding concern.” This update comes amid Peterborough City Council who earlier this month announced that all non-essential services would be suspended due to their financial situation. Some residents aired concerns that this would be a ‘new spend and non-essential’. PCC replied to these claims and said: “This will be considered through the council’s budget arrangements for spend.”