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Campaigners’ sports pitch petition ‘ignored’ by Westminster councillors

‘Kickabout space’ in Marylebone has been earmarked for residential development and locked shut for several years

26 February, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The sports pitch in Luxborough Street that residents are fighting to save

A CAMPAIGN to save a sports pitch from the bulldozer says a petition signed by 800 has been completely ignored by Westminster councillors.

The “kickabout space” in Luxborough Street, Marylebone, has been earmarked for residential development and locked shut for several years following a long-running sequence of City Hall blunders.

A petition, formally delivered to councillors last month, is so big that it automatically triggers a debate about the development at the cabinet meeting next Wednesday.

But residents says the cabinet’s briefing paper on the development has ignored the petition and they are expecting the council to wave through the project.

Organiser Eric Robinson said: “Councillors must listen to the hundreds of locals who are opposed to this development. We are not against development, we just call on the council to honour its own policies for open space and children.”

The residents say the plans conflict with the council’s own policy, which list the pitch as “protected open space”.

In 2009 the council’s housing arm CityWest Homes unveiled plans to build flats on the playground. In 2011 the council sold off the Marylebone library and suggested a new library could be built on the Luxborough Street playground site, or in Moxon Street. The council chose Luxborough Street despite a parents’ campaign and the pitch was closed.

In 2016 the plan to build the library was scrapped because of costs and a book-borrowing service was introduced at Seymour Leisure Centre.

The failed project to open the library on the site cost Westminster taxpayers more than £1,387,000.

The playground has remained closed at a cost of thousands of pounds when it should have been refurbished using receipts from neighbouring developments of a car park and office space in Chiltern Street.

Sue Robinson, who has been a school teacher in Marylebone for 25 years, added: “These forward-thinking policies are exactly what we need, for the future health and wellbeing of the growing number of young people in this area. Westminster should be leading the way.”

Cllr Rachael Robathan, the council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Regeneration, said: “We’re still talking to local residents about potential options for this site and no decisions have been made. A second round of consultation events will be held in order to understand residents views on any proposals.

“We’re committed to building 1,850 affordable homes by 2023 and so looking at possible locations that could be suitable for these new homes our local residents want. We will carefully consider everyone’s view before reaching any decision on the future of this site.

“Regardless of what decision is made the council is looking at many different options to improve the options for outdoor activity in the local area.”

For more information on the pitch, visit www.luxboroughSOS.org

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