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Public inquiry on Barnard Park revamp

Boost for campaigners opposing controversial plan to downsize 11-a-side pitch

01 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

CAMPAIGNERS opposing a controversial park revamp are celebra­ting after communities secretary Sajid Javid announced a public inquiry into the plans on Friday.

The proposals for Barnard Park, approved by planning chiefs in May, would see the current 11-a-side pitch, which is in a poor state, replaced by a floodlit 7-a-side artificial pitch, allowing for new paths, grassy areas, picnic tables and a barbecue area. The council has secured £850,000 for the changes.

The Friends of Barnard Park have backed the plans but the Copenhagen Youth Project, the Football Association (FA) and Arsenal in the Community oppose them because it entails the loss of the park’s full-size football pitch.

Government body Sport England also objected to the plans, so the decision was passed over to the Department for Commun­ities and Local Govern­ment which “called in” the decision.

There will now be a public inquiry on the final decision which will be made by the planning inspectorate, a government regulator who rules on contested planning applications.

Stephen Griffiths, a senior youth worker at Copenhagen Youth Project, said he was “optimistic” that the public inquiry would overturn the council’s planned changes.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s environment and transport chief, said: “We are of course disappointed. We are now carefully considering the detail of the call-in and our response.”

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