North Cowton residents set for battle over playing fields proposal

Residents of a village close to the site of where English armies defeated the Scottish in the 12th century Battle of the Standard are preparing for a battle over living standards.

The Richmondshire village of North Cowton has become divided over a plan being proposed by its five-member parish council to create allotments across a “fallow” 1,200sq metre area of its recreation ground, after some 15 residents “expressed an interest in allotments” and created an allotment association.

The proposal, which will be considered by Richmondshire District Council on Tuesday, follows a study by the Association of Public Service Excellence last year concluding almost 87 per cent of councils surveyed had seen a noticeable increase in demand for allotment plots.

The association said the finding illustrated the ever-increasing value the public places on allotments for exercise or recreational purposes and a renewed public interest in growing fruit and vegetables due to tightening household budgets.

The parish council has stated creating an access to allotments would mean cutting a three-metre strip off children’s playground, but that reducing the play area would not substantially affect the facilities and other users of the park would benefit from the new path.

While the parish council state allotment holders would be discouraged from using cars due to a lack of parking in the area, North Yorkshire County Council’s highways officers have called for the plan to be rejected over the likelihood of “vehicles being parked outside the site”.

In letters of objection, residents said Richmond MP Rishi Sunak had already intervened over parking issues outside the park. They said 15 allotments would lead to additional demand on the limited parking available and result in on-street parking affecting the main road.

One objection on behalf of numerous residents added: “The reason for our objection is that to allow the development of allotments next to a playground is, in our opinion, inappropriate. Our concern is safeguarding for the children.”

Other objectors added: “Allotments are usually allocated to those who live in properties with no gardens such as blocks of flats. There are no such properties in this area.”

The proposal has also attracted an objection from Sport England, which said as the site was the home ground for Cowton Football Club, which plays in the Hillsprint Hambleton Sunday League, allotment users could be hit by balls from the nearby pitch, which was already smaller than the size recommended by the Football Association.

In its objection Sport England stated: “It is considered that the proposed development gives rise to a potential conflict with the use of the playing field for football. Balls are likely to leave the playing field and land on the application site when matches are being played.”

The objection states playing fields are a resource for pitches to be marked out on, pitches to be changed from one pitch sport type to another, or to allow areas of the playing field to rest from over play

It adds: “Although the area of playing field proposed for the allotments is not currently marked out with a pitch it still forms part of the wider playing field area.”