'Royal' bid to save under-threat fields

AN APPLICATION has been made for threatened Sheffield playing fields to be given royal protection has now been submitted after Sheffield Council's leadership ordered officers to work round obstacles standing in the way of making the bid.

The authority's parks and countryside department had claimed it would be difficult to protect the fields at Woodhouse Mill.

They said the council did not own the whole field, with Yorkshire Water holding a portion, and Rotherham Council is planning to build on part of the site.

They said the application for protection under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields scheme, an initiative taking place as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations to create and protect green spaces, should be delayed while the issues were investigated.

But now Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven has ordered officials to get on with making the bid, proposed in a council motion last summer and backed by residents in Woodhouse Mill.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, cabinet member for communities, said: "We are committed to preserving Sheffield's green spaces.

"In line with the council's pledge and the local community's wishes to preserve the playing fields, our officers have been working tirelessly to find a solution here with the full cooperation of Yorkshire Water. I am pleased to say the outstanding ownership matters are now resolved and this has paved the way for Sheffield's application.

"We are continuing to work with the various stakeholders to hopefully make this a success - we have also received invaluable advice and support and from the charity administering the QEII Challenge."

The final decision on the QEII Challenge applications are expected before the end of 2011 and successful sites will be formally dedicated in 2012.

The QEII Fields application went ahead after Yorkshire Water backed the bid.

The council owns almost all the site but a bid must have support of all owners. Rotherham Council, which is proposing the road to link the new Waverley township to the A57, could still object or will have to find a new route.

Derek Hutchinson, of Woodhouse Mill and Orgreave Community Forum, said: "I'm very happy an application has been made. This is great news."

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