Major row over piece of land in Chapel-en-le-Frith

Residents on a Chapel-en-le-Frith housing estate are up in arms about the loss of an area of public open space.

They say the piece of land on Burnside Avenue was designated as public open space as part of the development by Barratts, and locals have been using the area for community and recreational activities for several years.

A planning application for nine apartments on the site was refused by councillors last year with one of their reasons being the loss of public open space, though the applicant has appealed this decision.

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Residents were then left shocked recently to discover a one metre high fence had been placed along the boundary of the land by landowner Stephen Robinson.

One local, who did not want to be named, said: “Nearly all of our children have grown up here, using this open green space to play and this has created a real spirit of community. This shared open area means our children and future children can have fun and adventures in a safe environment, close to home.”

Another added: “This green area is directly opposite our houses and is of particular importance to us as it represents an important social, recreational and educational resource for all our neighbourhood and makes it an appealing place to live and visit.  The green area provides a special ecological environment for wildlife which gives an aesthetical feel to the area.”

Mr Robinson, however, says the land is not designated as public open space, and he has fenced it off to protect the local children as the land borders a river bank.

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“The land was passed to me by Barratts approximately three years ago and there is nothing in any of the documentation given to me to say that the open space is subject to a section 106 agreement.

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“It is the least safe place for children to play. It is at the confluence of two rivers and that confluence is very fast flowing.

“Within 100 metres of that site is a very safe crossing which leads to a children’s play area with all the equipment.”

A spokesperson for High Peak Borough Council said: “There is a signed 106 agreement between the council and Barratt Homes which applies to the provision of car parking and a financial contribution to traffic management only.

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“There are also two planning conditions on the decision notice which prevent fences being erected on the site without planning permission and require the land to be maintained and made available as public open space.

“The council’s planning committee refused to grant permission to develop the land and an appeal has been lodged against that decision. We are awaiting the outcome of that appeal before deciding how to proceed, but we’ll keep matters under review in the meantime.”