Say eh oh! Teletubby Hills saved from developers


Residents have won their battle to stop nine homes being built on a private green space known as the Teletubby Hills.

The land to the north of Forrister Street, Meir Hay, is next to public open space owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and it was thought that the authority owned both sites.

The parcel of open space bordering the council land was found to be in private ownership after plans came forward for residential development.

More Stoke-on-Trent City Council news here

More than 140 people objected to the application, saying the land known locally as “Teletubby Hills” had been used by dog walkers, children and other residents for many years.

Members of the planning committee agreed yesterday that the development and loss of open space would have significant detrimental impact on the community.

They also said building on the land would go against policy after hearing that the site is classed as recreational green space in the Stoke-on-Trent Green Space Strategy, which was adopted in November 2018.

Meir Hay ward councillor Craig Beardmore spoke against the plans.



Councillor Craig Beardmore on Teletubby Hills

He said: “The land is in the centre of our community, in the middle of a residential estate. It is unenclosed and undeveloped, but maintained by the local authority as if it is public open space, giving confidence to residents it had always been in place for their use.

“When this application came forward everyone on the council believed the land was in the ownership of the local authority and it was classed as public open space. Over the last 15 years I have lived in Meir Hay the land has been maintained by the city council using public funds – and some public funds have seen improvements made to the land.

“The owners of the land have shown no interest in it for over 30 years. It is well-used open space and to take it away now would be an absolute disgrace.”

Wife and fellow councillor Lorraine Beardmore said: “We are in an area that suffers from obesity and lack of funds being available to access paid activities and sporting activities.”

The committee was told that ownership of the land was not a planning consideration however – and the landowner was able to restrict access to the site if they wished, providing access to a public right of way was kept open.

Caroline Payne, an agent who spoke in support of the application, said: “There is a recognised surplus of open space in the city and this would reduce the supply of green space by 0.4 per cent.

“There are a number within walking distance of the site and the remaining 75 per cent of open space (the council-owned section next to the land) would be enhanced through Section 106 funding. It would result in significant quality improvements to the council-owned public open space.

“There are no objections from statutory consultees. The main concerns from local residents are loss of amenity space.

“Stoke-on-Trent has an excellent track record of building properties on brownfield sites. However some development will have to take place on green land to deliver the required homes.”

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Planning officers had recommended the application for approval. But just two committee members backed a motion to approve the plans and councillors went on to vote for refusal.

Councillor David Evans said: “We are being pushed into a decision based on national legislation which isn’t in the best interest of the residents we serve. I have concerns that if we were to grant this application we would set a precedent.”

Committee chairman Councillor Ross Irving said: “From residents’ point of view and my point of view it wasn’t until I got the report I realised this land’s ownership.

“They have allowed it to become in people’s minds part of the open space and be maintained at public expense. Now they want to develop it, it has come as a shock to the local community.”

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