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Picnic highlights community land battle

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Picnic highlights community land battle

A STRONG turnout at a community picnic on Dumfries playing fields is said to highlight the passion behind a bid to block plans for a housing development.

About 100 people took part in the event staged at Parkhead as part of the UK-wide initiative ‘Have a Field Day’, aimed at raising awareness of how important green spaces are to communities.

Chairman of Noblehill and Parkhead Community Development Association David Coulter said: “The idea for a community picnic came from a local resident at our recent public meeting, and we were delighted to see such strong support for this informal community get together at Parkhead.”

Momentum has been gathering behind the Save Parkhead campaign, launched in response to concerns about the sale of a large area of parkland, including common good land, to Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP).

Arguing a lack of appropriate community consultation, the campaigners say the land is widely used by a range of community and sports groups, as well as families, dog walkers and individuals for social and recreation purposes.

Mr Coulter said: “The ‘Have a Field Day’ campaign highlights nationally the very same issues that we are facing locally — the loss of community green space to development. ”

Arguing proven benefits of local green spaces to health and wellbeing, he added: “The response from the community to the potential loss of Parkhead as an open and accessible green space shows the strength of feeling and an accompanying sense of devastation from those who use Parkhead regularly.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council have said that the land was previously under offer to developer Remixland as far back as April 2008, having been identified as an area for development in 1993.

And they say the sale finalised on March 31 is subject to a ‘buy back’ clause, as DGHP have three years in which to apply for and obtain planning permission.

The council also say any development would have to take into account ‘essential requirements’ in the Materplan Brief, including provision of one sports pitch, appropriate parking and the inclusion of open space.

And they say that once DGHP have applied for planning permission residents will be able to make comments or raise objections to proposals as part of the normal planning process.

Dumfries and West, Front

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