10:30 Thursday 20 February 2014

Campaigners turn up the heat over historic grounds future

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

Human chain formed in protest at plans to build houses on Ashby's Bath Grounds Human chain formed in protest at plans to build houses on Ashby's Bath Grounds

MORE than 1,200 people have signed a petition aiming to prevent housing from being developed on a historic piece of land in Ashby.

Campaigners seeking to protect the town’s Bath Grounds are growing increasingly concerned for the future of the land, off Station Road, which has been home to Ashby Hastings Cricket Club for more than 150 years and has been described as the town’s ‘crown jewel’.

It is subject to a plan to build five three-storey ‘grand parkland villas’, each with five bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Oakland Hotels, which owns the land, has not yet submitted a formal application, but for any planning bid to succeed, it would require Ashby Town Council to surrender its lease on the land, and also the authorisation of North West Leicestershire District Council.

Ashby Town Council member Roger Bayliss said it will not make any decision until an application is made and suggested striking a deal to allow some development in return for the freehold of the land, which would then be handed to ‘the people of Ashby’.

More than 100 people from the town made their feelings clear when they formed a ‘human chain’ on the Bath Grounds in December to signal their objection to the plans, while a petition has attracted in excess of 1,200 signatures in little over a week.

David Bigby, treasurer of Friends of Bath Grounds, said: “It is a very worrying time. There is a lot of concern over the future of the Bath Grounds.

“We have launched this petition to raise the profile and show how much people in Ashby don’t want houses built on the Bath Grounds.”

Clare Birch, a leading member of the group, added: “The Bath Grounds are a precious resource for the people of the town, well used and regarded as a beauty spot right in the heart of the town centre.

“Other towns envy what we have here in Ashby.”

Councillor Bayliss said: “There are a number of options that are open to us which include blocking any application and carrying on as we are.

“If we get an application we will see what happens. If nothing comes in, nothing will happen.”

The petition can be viewed at www.change.org

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