Campaigners call day of action in Boldon after popular park earmarked for housing under Local Plan development proposals
A day of action has been called as campaigners urge residents to come out in force to showcase the popularity of a park under threat of being turned into a housing development.
However, the earmarking of green belt sites and green spaces for housing has sparked outcry in parts of the borough, including in Boldon.
The inclusion of the area known as H38 on the plans – which sets out the vision and objectives of growth for the borough over the next 15 years – has hit a nerve with residents who have been left “devastated” at the prospect of losing the park which they say has provided a place of enjoyment for people for generations.
Facebook page – Friends of Disco Fields – set up by Boldon resident Michael Howe, in the aftermath of the news the land had been included in the plan has hit almost 700 members with many sharing memories as well as anger that their beloved park could be replaced by housing.
In a bid to showcase the park's popularity, a day of action has been called with residents being urged to visit and spend time in the area throughout Friday, August 5.
The date also marks the last day of 'Love Parks Week' which is being championed by South Tyneside Council.
The move is being backed by Boldon Labour councillor Alison Strike, who says she is strongly against the inclusion of Disco Park in the plans.
Cllr Strike said: “I am really not happy. We have two parks in Boldon that are under threat, Dipe Lane and Disco Field.
"We can't just be taking parks away. I am well aware we need more housing, and that we don't have a lot of brown field sites, but we shouldn't be looking at taking away our parks. There has to be alternative sites.
“This land was given to the council with a covenant placed on it by the National Coal Board that nothing was to be built on the land unless it was for recreational or agricultural purposes – so hopefully this will make things a bit more difficult.
“One of my pledges as a councillor was to improve the play parks in the area and I have already been in talks for prices for equipment for the area. We should be enhancing our parks not getting rid of them.”
Coun Strike added: “The Facebook page and the idea of getting people in the park together, is brilliant and it shows just how strongly the people of Boldon feel about protecting this park not just for themselves, but for future generations. The park has been around for such a long time and there is a lot of nostalgia in the park. It would be great to see as many people as possible come out on Friday and enjoy what the park has to offer.”
Mr Howe, who set up the page said; “I found out about the plans less than a fortnight ago and that there was a meeting.
"I went along to the meeting and there were only about 10 of us there. I don't think it was advertised enough and not everyone is on social media.
“I had a sleepless night thinking about it, so I set up a Facebook page and there were a lot of people who had no idea what was going on.
“This is not political, this is council officers who are coming up with these plans. If you go on Google maps and you see the park, it has at least 100 trees as well as hedgerows, but yet a few streets over there is land that is frequented by flytippers which could be developed instead – I just don't know how on earth someone can't see that.
“It's so frustrating, I have lived in Boldon all of my life and the park is well-used by people of all ages – it's heartbreaking to think we could lose it.”
He added: “It's been overwhelming the support that has been received on Facebook and it would be great to see everyone coming out on Friday to enjoy the park.”
Residents have until August 14 in which to submit their views by visiting Local Plan 2022 - South Tyneside Council - Citizen Space at https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/36011
In response to the campaign, Cllr Margaret Meling, Lead Member for Economic Growth, Skills and Climate Change, at South Tyneside Council, said the local authority welcomed all views on the Local Plan and encouraged others to come forward.
She said responses would be considered by officers if they were submitted to the council.
“We’ve had a great response to consultation on the local plan so far, with our 11 events well attended and more than 1,500 comments received to date,” she said.
“For those who have not yet given their views, the consultation period does not close until Sunday, August 14.
“Officers will analyse responses to help shape the next phase of the plan, and ultimately, the plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State for a Public Examination before an independent Planning Inspector.
"To be formally considered, views must be made in writing via the appropriate channels. For further information, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/localplan”