Salford’s City Mayor has stepped in to quash fears that historic playing fields in the Claremont area of the city are to be developed for housing.

The Duncan Mathieson playing fields off Lancaster Road are owned by a charity, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Manchester.

The playing fields have been proposed for continued recreation land in the Council’s draft Local Plan. The plan says there is a shortage of playing pitches in the area and better use should be made of the Duncan Mathieson playing fields.

Consultation on the Local Plan proposals has just finished. One of the responses to consultation was from the charity and Barratt Homes. They suggested that the land should be developed for housing along with the neighbouring Lancaster Road school playing fields which are owned by the council.

Ward councillors have strongly objected to the Barratt Homes plan and a public meeting to seek residents’ views attracted some 300 people. Sport England is monitoring this issue.

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “We understand that the charity needs to raise money but we cannot afford to lose playing pitches in this part of the city. We have no plans to sell the Lancaster Road playing fields which we own. Although our planners need to consider the charity and Barratt Homes proposal properly, I think it’s a non-starter.”

Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning and sustainable development, said: “We have had hundreds of responses to the Local Plan draft proposals including one which goes against our suggestion to improve and bring back into use the playing fields. We will have to consider that response like any other.

“But no one has submitted evidence which challenges our view that there is a shortage of playing fields.

“We do need to work with partners to see how best we can make the playing fields usable. If we can’t find away to do that, a government planning inspector may decide housing is the only viable use.”

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