RESIDENTS who have campaigned for years to save playing fields threatened by a road scheme are celebrating after Sheffield Council backed a bid to give the green space legal protection.
People living around Woodhouse Mill are applying for the recreation ground, off Retford Road, to be dedicated as a Queen Elizabeth II Field under the Fields in Trust scheme, part of the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The initiative aims to preserve existing playing fields and create new ones around the country - which would be protected from development and managed as a public recreation ground and playing field.
Rotherham Council wants to build a link road from the new Waverley township to Woodhouse Mill, along the edge of the fields, in a project which would also have resulted in the loss of five homes on Retford Road.
However, it will have to consider alternative routes or launch a legal battle if it wants to proceed with the road scheme - funding for which has still not been granted by the Government.
Watch Street resident Derek Hutchinson, who has campaigned for the playing fields to be protected, said: “It’s fantastic. I have been fighting against these road plans for the last eight years and we can now draw a line under things and say the threat to the fields is over.”
The move to give Woodhouse Mill fields protected status is recommended for approval by members of Sheffield Council’s cabinet when they meet on Wednesday.
Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council deputy leader, said: “It is great to be able to dedicate this site for recreational use in this way while at the same time marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
“There has been a lot of campaigning by residents to keep it as a playing field as it is popular with local people and I am glad to say this protected status will now mean the grounds will remain as playing fields for future generations to use.”
Coun Jackie Satur, Labour member for Woodhouse, said: “We have maintained throughout that we cannot support the plans to build a link road through the field.”
Rotherham Council has been asked to submit further justification for the link road to the Government before a decision is made on funding - but a change in the route would mean a significant increase in costs as a bridge would be needed over the River Rother, making it less likely to win backing.