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Housing plan rejected for Yardley playing fields which launched Premier League stars

“We need exceptional reasons to build on playing fields and I cannot see any in this case," said planning committee member Keith Linnecor

Barrows Lane: the sports ground where more than 80 homes may be built.
Barrows Lane: the sports ground where more than 80 homes may be built.

The Yardley playing fields where Midlands football stars Craig Gardner and Darren Carter started out have been saved from redevelopment.

Birmingham’s planning committee threw out the application for 82 homes and a new sports pavillion at the Co-op owned Barrows Lane playing fields .

Almost 1,000 locals had signed a petition opposing the development on the fields where West Bromwich Albion star Gardner and former Birmingham City midfielder Carter played as youngsters.

The plan was rejected because there is not enough affordable housing promised and there is some concern over safety for pedestrains and emergency access to the site.

Craig Gardner, left, and Darren Carter both played at the Barrows Lane pitches.
Craig Gardner, left, and Darren Carter both played at the Barrows Lane pitches.

The Central England Co-op called for extra-time to negotiate a deal on affordable housing to get the application passed, but the plea fell on deaf ears.

Spokesman Will Charlton said: “Rather than refusing the scheme a more pragmatic approach would be to defer a decision for a short period.”

He argued that they could rearrange the sporting facilities to allow some affordable housing to be included.

But following the rejection it is now likely the company will submit a revised planning application which answers the concerns.

Committee members also argued that the area does not have enough sports fields or public open spaces.

Coun Carol Jones (Lib Dem, Stechford and Yardley North) said: “The area has a lack of open space and a lack of sports facilities.”

And Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) said: “We need exceptional reasons to build on playing fields and I cannot see any in this case.”

He added that developers frequently claim pitches are unused, overgrown and unwanted. “When they become derelict it is usually because they have been allowed to by the people that own them.”

Objectors Fay Goodman and Joy McGovern had earlier told the committee that they believe the Co-op is acting against its community ethos in proposing development and that Co-op members who contributed to the pitches would want them to remain.

The residents were supported by the their councillors Neil Eustace (Lib Dem), Basharat Dad (Lab) and MP Jess Phillips who tweeted: “Glad that today the right decision was made for people of Yardley.”

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