Fradley villagers baffled over lost sports field legacy

Fradley residents thought a village centre field had been left to them for recreation.

Fradley residents

Refused to answer: Michael Wilcox.

But now it seems 80 houses could be built on the site that belonged to deceased farmer and former parish councillor, George Arblaster.

The Tory leader of Lichfield District Council (LDC) had appeared to give a cast iron guarantee it would be turned into a sports field.

Nothing else – Wilcox

Michael Wilcox, who also sits on Fradley and Streethay Parish Council (FSPC), had said the land was, “designated and has to be used for village recreational purposes, nothing else.”

He added that the field would, “be ideal for a nice cricket pavilion and cricket pitch.  And that would bring the village together.

“It’s down the part of his land that he (Mr. Arblaster) didn’t want any more development – he wanted recreation.”

No ‘designation’

But Wilcox’s fellow Fradley ward councillor, Ben Rayner, said the land was, “not designated for any specific use.”

Fradley residents

Understood the problem and was willing to speak: Ben Rayner.

The planning applicants echoed him, saying their development would, “not result in the loss of land that is designated for any purpose.”

Wilcox, refused to explain why he had claimed the land had been, “designated”, for, “recreation”.

Nor would he say where a new sports field could be put, if not on the Arblaster site.

But Rayner did understand the community’s need for proper facilities.

Hay End Lane

He said he would be pushing for games pitches to be included in a 250-house scheme developers want to build on land north of Hay End Lane.

But that project only has outline planning consent. And currently the sewers running through Fradley village would never cope if the houses were built.

So it is not known when the first bricks might be laid.

And Fradley’s need for sports facilities is urgent.

People in Alrewas have restricted access to their grounds because of overuse.

Fradley residents

It is claimed Fradley residents have been a large part of the problem.

fradley residents

Will deliver the villagers’ message: Margaret Stanhope MBE.

Fradley’s other LDC ward councillor, Margaret Stanhope MBE, said the villagers needed their own sports ground – Alrewas could no longer accommodate them.

Because she sits on the district planning committee that will judge these matters she could not give a personal opinion.

Staunch supporter

Yet the councillor was quick to sympathise with her constituents.

She said FSPC and the residents had long believed Arblaster’s field was to be bequeathed to the village for recreation.

“Mr Arblaster was a highly respected member of Fradley village and served on the parish council for many, many years,” added Coun. Stanhope.

Learning that the Mr Arblaster’s executors wanted to put houses on the field had been, “a great surprise and shock,”  she went on.

She said: “If local residents consider this land as being suitable for recreation, I would not oppose their wishes.

They must be heard

“People should have an opportunity to plan and express their wishes for the needs of their local community.”

Coun. Stanhope, said: “I feel duty bound to inform the (planning) committee members (considering the 80-house scheme) of the strong feelings being raised with me regarding this application.

“The members will in turn will also consider the (LDC) officer’s recommendation and issues raised by local residents and hopefully reach the right decision.”

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