Boddington split deepens as community field is put up for sale

Jubilee Field, Upper Boddington. From the left, Jeanette Mills, Debbie Hanna, Anne Senior and Debbie Turner, Friends of Jubilee Field. NNL-180529-155621009
Jubilee Field, Upper Boddington. From the left, Jeanette Mills, Debbie Hanna, Anne Senior and Debbie Turner, Friends of Jubilee Field. NNL-180529-155621009

The future of a green, open space that has split the community in Boddington hangs in the balance as the parish council has offered it up for sale.

Friends of Jubilee Field (FOJF) raised £75,000 last year to buy the space to prevent it being built on but their offer was rejected by the parish council which owns the land.

Now there are fears pressure will be put upon the district council to go against previous refusals and allow planning consent for the green area.

It is understood the parish council, which owns the field, does not support the land being kept as a public space and is keen to provide affordable housing in the village.

The Banbury Guardian was unable to speak to anyone from the parish council but in a public statement it said a village survey showed a ‘small but clear majority’ in favour of housing on the Jubilee Field.

It has engaged Savills to explore sale of the site and it is understood several bids – including one from the FOJF – have been received.

“It is through the analysis of received offers that we will be able to accurately assess the value of the site,” said the statement. “There has been great uncertainty and unrest in the parish over the future of Jubilee Field for too long.

“We are trying to reach an end point and make a decision on the future of Jubilee Field.

“We are seeking a resolution that is fair and in the long-term interests of the parish.”

Villagers who want the field to remain as a public open space say architects are already drawing up plans for 14 homes on the site even though planning permission has been rejected several times in the past.

A member of FOJF said: “We put in a bid in August which was rejected. We have been asking for a negotiation meeting or selling price since then. Neither have been forthcoming and now they do this.

“Planning permission has been turned down numerous times over the years so not sure why it should be any different now.”

The group’s Facebook page admin said: “The parish council voted not to accept the FOJF bid and advised that it would not accept a bid of this amount from any other individual or group. We offered what the land is valued at and stated this was our opening bid in the hope the PC would work with us and let us know how much would be enough.

“Unfortunately this information has not been forthcoming. We are aware current investors are prepared to invest more and other parishioners would like to invest if they had an approximate figure to aim for. We endeavour to find out this information.”

The Friends, who carry out maintenance and improvements to the field, hold a working party on Jubilee Field every month. One takes place this Sunday, from 2pm to 4pm.