Anger over plans to sell off ‘field of dreams’

Local residents angry about the proposal to sell off land at Newbottle playing fields
Local residents angry about the proposal to sell off land at Newbottle playing fields
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Angry residents are up in arms over plans to sell off their ‘field of dreams’.

Sunderland City Council has announced that it intends to dispose of land north of Blind Lane, near Sunniside, close to Newbottle Primary School.

“We need green spaces more so than ever.”

Kerry Baker

But those living in the area say it is well used for play by youngsters and families as well as junior football teams.

Kerry Baker, 45, who lives on the Meadow View estate close by with her partner Billy Danby, 50, and son Robbie Baker, 12, told the Echo: “The land has been there for 40 years for recreational activity and to remove the field is really what we are objecting to.

“Gentoo are building new homes close to here and so are Persimmon so there isn’t going to be many places like this left soon.

“We need green spaces more so than ever.”

Many of those opposing the move held a meeting at the Beehive pub, in Sedgeletch Road, this week to discuss the issue.

Although a public notice has been issued, council chiefs say nothing has been decided yet about what will happen to the land.

Written objections must be sent to the council before 4pm on Monday. Many residents at the meeting signed letters to be submitted to the council before the deadline.

“We don’t have a lot of time to get letters in so we need to move quickly,” added Kerry.

Families fear the sale of the land could block access when taking their children to school, as well as taking away a well used field which provides a safe place to play.

Resident Jan Leach, who has lived on Burnside since 1971, said: “The sale of the land is detrimental to the area in which we live.
“It would take away a place for children to play and hinder access to Newbottle Primary school, causing a major risk to children’s safety.”

Steve Winlow, 40, who lives in Devonport with his wife and son Connor, aged nine said: “There are more and more developments in Newbottle and this is the only big green field that provides a safe place for kids to play.

“Any development on it will cause access issues to the school.
“It makes no sense to sell it.”

Mum-of-three Joanne Kelly, 37, who was at the meeting with her husband David, 36, agreed.

She said: “We have lived on The Potteries for the last eight years and our house backs right on to the field at the edge.
“Our children, who are aged nine, 11 and 13, use that area daily to play out.”

David added: “The council does have a responsibility to provide housing, but a development on this site is overbearing and out of proportion with the area.

“With all of the other developments going on in the area there will be an increase in traffic and such a development would cause congestion and block access to the site of the school.

“Children use that field to play, but if it is sold where will the children go to play?”

Residents also said they are considering putting forward a collaborative bid for the land which would then see them take ownership of the field and be responsible for its upkeep.

Steve Ellithorn, 46, who lives with his wife, his nine-year-old son and his 11-year-old daughter at The Crofters, runs football team Hetton Roma Under 10’s, who train on the field.
He said: “We train twice a week on the field, if the field goes where are they supposed to go?”

Councillor Mel Speding, Sunderland City Council Cabinet Secretary, said: “We can assure people that despite rumours to the contrary, nothing has been decided yet on this piece of land.

“Public notices have been published as part of the legal process of public consultation, and all of the views and opinions generated as a result will be carefully considered before reaching that decision .

“Sunderland City Council values all ‘open space’ land, and does everything it can to protect that land balanced against the future planning and development needs of the city.”