Last-ditch attempt to save Westward Ho! park from housing proposals

Westward Ho! park campaigners: Phil Hodson, Nick Laws (Westward Ho! councillor), Pam and Stewart Makeig-Jones. Picture: Sarah Howells
Westward Ho! park campaigners: Phil Hodson, Nick Laws (Westward Ho! councillor), Pam and Stewart Makeig-Jones. Picture: Sarah Howells

A Westward Ho! councillor is making a last-ditch attempt to save the village park from being developed.

Councillor Nick Laws has put a motion in to the full Torridge District Council meeting on Monday to ask members to transfer the ownership of the park to Northam Town Council instead of developing it.

Councillor Laws said a 3,500-strong petition against the proposals to build 16 houses on the land had been collected.

The district council is in the process of putting together a planning application for houses, a new smaller park, two pay-to-use tennis courts and a community building on the site.

But residents say they don’t want the houses, and they are happy using the four free tennis courts there at the moment.

Cllr Laws said Torridge was given ownership of village parks and playing fields in the 1970s and are now handing many back to town and parish councils.

He said: “I am hoping on June 18 that my fellow councillors will recognise the dangerous precedent the sale of Westward Ho! park sets.

The park at Westward Ho! The park at Westward Ho!

“No park or playing field in the district, in my opinion, would be safe. I don’t know how this has got this far and in all honesty it doesn’t really matter.

“What matters now is that I do my best at the full council meeting later this month to try and persuade my fellow councillors not to let this happen.”

Cllr Laws said he was proud to be a district councillor but felt selling the park for development would bring TDC into disrepute.

The village green in Westward Ho! The village green in Westward Ho!

Volunteer gardeners at the park spend time planting vegetables for the community to use and tidying the flower beds for free.

Phil Hodson said he brings his three- and eight-year-old grandchildren to the park to play.

“It’s safe and enclosed here, unlike the green where they could just run into the road,” he said.

The former Happy Cafe in Westward Ho! which volunteers have now painted. The former Happy Cafe in Westward Ho! which volunteers have now painted.

The campaign to save the park from development has been rumbling on for years.

Torridge initially consulted on plans for the site in June 2016, and a year-long battle ensued as campaigners lodged an appeal to designate the park a village green, which they lost.

The matter will be debated in Bideford Town Hall at 6.30pm on Monday.


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