Waiting game in Billingshurst

MANOR Fields in Billingshurst is a redundant football pitch that has lain fallow for more than six years, having been replaced by the new facility to the west of the bypass.

It is owned by the village and is in the stewardship of the parish council.

According to the minutes of the parish council, it was decided in September 2008 that the disused land would be best employed to provide allotments for the use of parishioners.

A group of worthy volunteers offered to manage the project and formed the Billingshurst Allotments Society.

Then in December 2010 the parish council applied to Horsham District Council for planning permission to change the use of the land from a sports field to 61 allotments, which was granted.

However, this was subject to the condition that Sport England (a quango) approved the decision.

The village is still waiting, but it does raise the question of why Sport England became involved when the remit of that body extends to the five year period immediately following cessation of sports activities on such a site (Sport England website). That period has of course long since expired.

It appears that Sport England now requires a catalogue of all the open spaces in the parish, yet this data was part and parcel of the planning application that was made in 2010.

It seems to me that the conduct of this whole affair has been marked by mismanagement and unnecessary procrastination.

Surely those who are employed at our expense to deal with such matters ought to do a lot better.

What the residents want for this land is healthy, productive and intensive agricultural activity.

What is not wanted is yet more housing, especially after the struggle over the land to the east of Billingshurst, where we have an armistice for the moment.

M.D. SMITH

High Street, Billingshurst