More than 2,000 people have backed a campaign to save a green space from future development.
Families have been fighting to protect Berryhill Fields since the site was earmarked for 1,300 homes during a local plan consultation in 2018.
While leaders at Stoke-on-Trent City Council insist the land will not be included when the draft local plan is published later this year, many residents fear development could still happen at some point.
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A petition, which calls for the council to ‘completely and unequivocally rule out building on Berryhill Fields’, has now been signed by 2,109 people.
Eaton Park resident and Labour activist Sam Hackney, who organised the petition, believes the land should be forever protected from development.
He said: “I really hope that the fields aren’t built on, with the vast array of brownfield sites in the city it makes much more sense to build there. The fields are a great place to just disconnect with reality a bit and to take a nice and peaceful walk and during Covid this has been so helpful for everyone dealing with their mental health.
“I’m so proud of of community that we have managed to reach over 2,000 signatures and I would just like to thank everyone that signed it.
“I’d also like to thank the Friends of Berryhill Fields. They’re brilliant and there wouldn’t be a campaign without them.”
Stoke-on-Trent’s much-delayed local plan, once it is finally approved, will guide all development across the Potteries until 2040.
It could include a housing requirement of up to 21,480 homes over the 20-year lifetime of the plan.
An ‘issues and options’ consultation, which gave people the chance to comment on things like the housing target – but not specific sites – was carried out earlier this year.
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Dave Burgess, vice-chairman of the Save Berryhill Fields Action Group, supports the petition.
He said: “It’s not our petition but we decided we would throw our weight behind it as a group.
“We’ve taken part in the issues and options consultation, as individuals and as a group, and so now we’re just playing the waiting game to see what will be in the draft local plan.
“One of the points we made was on whether there is a need to build 20,000 homes. That’s the equivalent of eight Bentilees – it’s a huge number. If they set a lower housing target there would be enough space on the city’s brownfield sites.
“We also raised issues that have emerged during the pandemic, such as the recognition of the need for local green space that people can access.
“While Berryhill Fields has been assessed as not financially viable for development, our concerns is that could change in the future if new funding is made available.”
Dan Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration at the city council, says Berryhill Fields is safe from development.
He said: “As long as there’s a Conservative council it won’t be developed.
“The petition will be part of the issues and options consultation, so I’d thank everyone who has signed it. I know the local councillor Heather Blurton is always very vocal about protecting the fields, and if it’s not included in the local plan it will be safeguarded for the next 20 years.”
The deadline for signing the e-petition on the council website is this Wednesday.
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