Longridge’s Kestor Lane recreation ground is poised to get protected status to safeguard it from future development.
Town councillors are celebrating after persuading site owners Ribble Valley Council to seek a “Fields In Trust” (FIT) status for the park under a new national Centenary Fields Initiative.
This would prohibit any future development and ensure the land retains its original purpose forever - as a permanent open space war memorial in memory of local residents who gave their lives during World War I.
Ribble Valley’s Community Services Committee gave the go-ahead for the application last week.
Delighted Longridge mayor Coun Paul Byrne said FIT approval would give the site “the highest level of legal protection currently available and ensures Longridge’s War Memorial is safe in perpetuity from inappropriate development.”
He stressed this would not prevent site improvements: “With the permission of FIT we will still be able to enhance recreational facilities for the benefit of Longridge residents.”
Previous suggestions that a supermarket or health facilities could be built on the field were rebuffed but those proposals raised concerns over the future of the site.
Ribble Valley Council leader and Dilworth Councillor Ken Hind said: “This is an important milestone for Longridge ... We will be signing a deed with the Fields In Trust organisation, formerly known as the National Playing Fields Association who will have the power to step in and stop developments which change the use of the field from recreation. For the future the council will own and maintain the field but it will be protected for the recreational use of local residents."
Meanwhile Longridge mayor Coun Byrne thanked Town Coun David Moon who proposed the FIT application and added: “Thanks are also due to Mr Charles Carefoot and Mr Geoff Carefoot for the wholehearted support they have given to the Town Council in this matter, including making personal statements at the meeting of the (Ribble Valley) community services committee.”
The Centenary Fields Initiative was launched in partnership with the Royal British Legion to protect dedicated war memorials and fields.
Ribble Valley Council will have to give Fields In Trust a legal interest in the site.
Coun Hind said RVBC also agreed that Ribble Valley mayor Coun Stuart Carefoot will rededicate the field on November 11 as a centenary field.
• In the mid 1920s Longridge Urban District Council purchased Kestor Lane field for £1,740 from the Sanderson family as a permanent memorial. The open space was to signify the freedom for which many local men had died. A new war memorial will be erected by the Town Council in their memory before Remembrance Day this year.