Cleadon residents make plea for support in village green status fight

Oakleigh Gardens playing fields, Cleadon Village.
Oakleigh Gardens playing fields, Cleadon Village.

Village residents are appealing for help in their fight to protect playing fields for future generations.

Oakleigh Gardens Community Action Group have launched a bid to turn playing fields on the site of the former Oakleigh Gardens School, in Cleadon, into a village green.

It’s a really valuable piece of greenfield.

Jeff Milburn

The land, which was sold to a housing developer, saw a number of homes being built on the site of the old school.

However, its playing fields were left untouched.

It is believed the move taken by the group - made up of Cleadon residents - is to prevent the land from being developed on in the future.

A public inquiry will now take place where the application will be considered by an independent inspector.

The group are arguing the land has been used for sports and recreational activities by a number of residents, both continuously and as a right, in excess of 20 years.

South Tyneside Council has asked for proof of the group’s claims, stating as landowner it had made “reasonable attempts” to restrict access to the land, adding some of the historic usage has taken place “pursuant to consents granted” and “was not as of right.”

The inquiry will be held on Wednesday, March 14 where both side will put their arguments forward.

Former councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon Jeff Milburn, who has joined the campaigners, said: “For this land to become a village green, it would be a positive move.

“It’s well used by the children who play on it and by people who walk their dogs, it’s a really valuable piece of greenfield.

“But we need more people locally to know about these plans and to put their views forward, if there is any chance of it becoming a village green.”

The application for village green status is currently available to view at South Shields Town Hall, Monday to Thursday from 9am until 5pm and on Fridays from 9am until 4pm.

The inquiry is also open to the public to attend.

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “We have received an application for registration of Oakleigh Gardens Playing Fields, Cleadon, as a Town or Village Green.

“As the Council is the landowner and the local Commons Registration Authority, the application will be considered by an independent inspector at a public inquiry on 14-15 March.”

The inquiry, which is being held at One Trinity Green, in Eldon Street, South Shields, will start at 10am.