Scores of young runners took to the fields of Temple Memorial Park - scenes that anti-sports development campaigners fear could be lost forever.
Pupils from schools across Northumberland were competing in the annual Northumberland School’s Athletic Association Cross Country event on the site, earlier this week.
If the plans are allowed to go ahead, this would not be able to happen and that would be a real shame.Gerard New
The land they were using has been identified by Westoe Rugby Club, which hope to relocate from its current home in Wood Terrace, and create a new state-of-the-art sports hub at Temple Park.
The club wants to build new rugby and cricket pitches, as well as squash and tennis facilities, to match its vision of expansion in a development its chairman Duncan Murray says would bring “enormous benefits” and would be a “massive loss to the borough” if it was not allowed to go ahead.
The development would feature a clubhouse and function suite, changing rooms, rugby pitches, cricket field, tennis courts and squash courts.
The sports complex would be funded through the sale of the club’s existing site for luxury houses.
However, campaigners say the land belongs to the people of South Shields and if it is allowed to go ahead, huge numbers of residents and groups that use the site would be affected.
Campaigner Gerard New of the Friends of Temple Memorial Park group said: “Temple Memorial Park provides a great opportunity for groups and school events likes this. It’s a safe area for events like that as it is a big enough area to cater for them.
“We have seen some other big cross country events taking place and this is taking place on land that would be lost.”
He added: “If the plans are allowed to go ahead, this would not be able to happen and that would be a real shame.
“There were groups visiting from across Northumberland and there was a bus pulled in from Tweedmouth - this wasn’t local schools. It was the Northumberland Schools Cross Country event.”
The Friends of Temple Memorial Park are currently recruiting volunteers to go out and help clean up the park by taking part in a community litter pick.
A date has yet to be confirmed, but people interested can gain further information on the Friends of Temple Memorial Park Facebook page.
A meeting of those interested in the future of the park will be held on Thursday January 25 at Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare in Low Lane, South Shields, at 7pm.