'This is the wrong decision' - Therfield Heath land swap slammed by Royston people as Conservators continue to push for support

PUBLISHED: 11:58 23 March 2017

The  land threatened with deregistration and development.

The land threatened with deregistration and development.

Archant

Plans revealed in the Crow last week to deregister and sell off part of Therfield Heath have been met with a backlash from Royston people - who feel they have been kept in the dark about the future of this major town landmark.

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens has applied to exchange a portion of common land near to Sun Hill and Briary Lane with woodland to the west of New Road near Therfield, and clerk David Smith says it could generate £1 million profit for sports facilities.

However, Royston golfer Karen Pearson, who has lived in the town for 17 years, told the Crow: “It will certainly not be good for the future of the heath.

“The heath is a major part of Royston and its value is going to become ever more important with the building that’s going on.

“When I’m playing golf you stop to admire the view. It makes you think how lucky we are. I’m a great supporter of sport, but this is too much.”

It’s emerged since the story broke that an email was sent on Saturday by Mr Smith to sports clubs in the area – rallying them to back the application.

The email was passed on to the Crow with concerns over the tone, and it’s lack of information or alternative solutions. It read: “If this permission is refused the plans that the Conservators have for investing in sports facilities on the heath will be brought to a halt.”

The letter also said that, if the plans didn’t go ahead, it would lead to a reappraisal of how the site is let and managed in light of the heath’s running costs.

A Royston resident, who wished to remain anonymous said: “I’m objecting to the application.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the Conservators, and I like the idea of sporting facilities on the heath, but equally I’m very into wildlife and conservation and I think in this case the balance is off. We really should keep the land.”

Diane Glanville, who has lived in Royston for 30 years, said:

“I think that bit of land is of far more use to the community of Royston – children use it and people can see them from their houses, The exchange land is a poor swap. It’s well away from Royston.

“The heath is a major asset, it is the most beautiful part of the town and this is the wrong decision.”

Mr Smith said he hadn’t kept anyone in the dark regarding timing and that the notice was a legal process.

He added: “The letter was sent to the sports clubs because they’re people who we think would support the application and sports facilities would only be built in the areas already used for sport.

“We understand it is emotive, and that people love the heath. We love the heath, and we believe this would be of benefit to the site.”

The deadline for views to be sent to the Planning Inspectorate is tomorrow – to have your say email commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk.

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