King’s Lynn sports pitches to be protected from development after council approves Fields in Trust link

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A sports ground which was removed from a major housing proposal following public protests is set to be given protected status under plans approved by council chiefs.

The River Lane sports fields in Gaywood were among six sites where development was proposed as part of the project in the Lynnsport and Marsh Lane areas.

But West Norfolk Council’s cabinet approved plans to register the area with Fields in Trust, a national charity which safeguards recreational spaces, during a meeting on Wednesday.

The authority had pledged to seek long-term protection for the area after it was removed from the development plans earlier this year.

And deputy leader Alistair Beales said of the proposal: “It seeks to protect that area, as we promised to do.”

David Pope, portfolio holder for ICT, leisure and public space, added: “The main asset is that, whatever happens, it will always be a green open space.

“This gives people living in the neighbourhood the guarantee this will be there and, with the borough council looking after it, it will always be in good condition.”

The proposal allows the council to agree a deed in dedication with Fields in Trust which, when completed, would see the site dedicated to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The dedication will be part of the charity’s ongoing partnership with the Royal British Legion.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners against the housing proposal, although they say they are unclear about exactly how much protection will be given by the new arrangement.

They also remain concerned about the impact of the proposals on the wider area, including preparatory works, and have called a public meeting to take place at the scout hut in Beulah Street on June 27 to discuss the campaign’s next moves.

Sue Bruce, secretary of the Lynnsport Area Residents’ Association (LARA), said yesterday: “We’re pleased they’ve done what they said they would do.”

But she added: “We would still like to see further areas of Lynnsport protected for the use of the public.”

However, a report published ahead of the meeting said the partnership would give “permanent” protection for the site.

It continued: “The document requires Fields in Trust approval for any development on an open space and, generally, this only allows buildings that are ancillary to the site, for example, changing rooms for football pitches.

“However, these still need Fields in Trust permission.”

The report added that the council will continue to own and manage the area.