College blocks off playing fields

Signs put up at the college
Signs put up at the college

A series of signs and additional fencing barring access to Northampton College’s playing fields off Badby Road West went up last week.

The signs state correctly that the land is private, and dog walking is not permitted on the playing fields, despite the local community using them for this purpose for decades.

The college site is currently subject to a planning application for 130 homes on part of the land.

Northampton College says it needs to sell off part of the site for housing to get the rest of the funding for its plan to build a new college facility on part of the site close to its current car park entrance.

The planning application shows some of the existing playing fields would remain.

The signs have already been joined by ones posted by the College Grounds Action Group, which say “This fence and notice was erected on April 1, 2015.

“It contravenes your right to access and use this playing field for exercise, recreation and dog walking, as established by custom and practice over the last 37 years.”

Steve Lawes, chairman of the College Grounds Action Group said he believed the college is “hell bent” on upsetting local residents and campaigners.

He said: “People are still walking through all along the perimeter. It is so unnecessary as they should wait for planning permission to be granted.

“We didn’t expect this to happen.”

Cllr Wendy Randall called on the college to engage more with local residents about issues relating to the site. She said: “ I do understand that this is their land and a lot of people know this as well. But the college should allow people to use the playing fields until construction starts and it becomes a health and safety issue. But I don’t think putting up signs will make a difference to the planning application.”

A Northampton College spokesperson said they were unable to comment on the issue at this time.