A CLAIM by a housing developer that it had agreed a deal “in principle” to make a donation to build on a popular playing field in Northwich has been rubbished by the town’s mayor.

Last Friday (May 6), around 150 angry residents gathered at Rudheath Social Club to discuss a scheme to build 49 new houses and a care home on St Johns Playing Field, which adjoins Griffiths Park.

The plans for the site - produced by NPL Group Ltd and HB Villages - propose building 20 two-bedroom homes, 22 three-bedroom homes, seven four-bedroom properties, 12 one-bedroom apartments as well as a three-storey care home.

In a presentation outlining the plans, developers say the scheme represented 'a high-quality proposal' that would deliver 'much-needed affordable housing' and care provision in the town.

They also claimed to have reached an agreement “in principle” with both Sport England and Cheshire West and Chester council (CWAC) to make a financial contribution to compensate for the loss of the playing field should the scheme go-ahead.

Northwich Guardian: A detailed plan for the site at Griffiths Park - Photo: Avison YoungA detailed plan for the site at Griffiths Park - Photo: Avison Young

However, at a meeting of Northwich Town Council on Monday, May 9, that suggestion was described as “nonsense” by Cllr Sam Naylor.

Cllr Naylor said there was already a groundswell of opposition to the proposal, with the claims of “a deal” only adding further fuel to the fire.

“I was contacted by Avison Young (agents for NPL) last week, inviting me to a meeting to discuss a development on part of Griffiths Park in Rudheath,” he said.

“I’d been there a few weeks before to see the progress of another one close by and it’s a beautiful piece of parkland.

“I looked at it and thought, 'why are CWAC saying there is a shortage of playing areas for kids, particularly for football teams?'.

“I was horrified to learn from them there had been preliminary talks.

“I also heard from other sources how CWAC had come to a sort of deal through Sport England and that they were in favour of this.

“However, I want to reassure the public that I’ve been on to the planning department and there is no way CWAC and Sport England have come to any agreement about a development on the land.

“It’s nonsense.

“There’s already been a massive groundswell of public opinion saying, ‘no way is this going to happen’.”

At the public meeting on Friday, Cllr Helen Treeby, who is the CWAC councillor for Rudheath said she strongly objects the proposal, as do the parish council.

Northwich Guardian: A public meeting at Rudheath Social Club attracted around 150 peopleA public meeting at Rudheath Social Club attracted around 150 people

A spokseman for them said: "Griffiths Park is well used by residents and very popular, we also hold events on the park.

"Before Covid-19, Cllr Treeby organised an event for children on the park along with Active Cheshire.

"It would be very sad to lose the park, and for health and well-being."