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Council to decide on fields' future

POSSIBLE uses for the former Lucas Playing Fields complex in Reedley will be considered by the council's Executive tonight.

Proposals include using half of the site for residential development and for the council to use the other half for a community sports area. The site, behind Reedley magistrates court in Colne Road, is no longer in recreational use and has become overgrown since it was locked up in 1994.

It was built in the 1950s by Lucas Industries for its workforce but the community also used it and by the 1970s many teams using the fields were not made up by Lucas employees.

The company decided to redevelop the site but permission for residential development was refused, as were later applications, and the grounds were locked. Residents were delighted when they won their five-year battle in 1997 against the site being turned into a housing development.

It was allocated as a private open space in the Local Plan with the point that redevelopment of some of it was expected and retaining the whole site as open space was unrealistic.

After the company became TRW Automotive it decided to dispose of the former sports complex and it demolished the pavilion in 1996. The results of a playing field assessment in Pendle in March 2000 showed that there should be no overall reduction in pitch provision and that there was a need for higher quality pitch provision, specifically in the Brierfield and Reedley area.

Members of the Executive will be asked to consider a development brief tonight and approve it for public consultation.

The brief says: "The former Lucas site is not likely to reopen as a sports complex without considerable investment of capital and labour. The council has considered that partial redevelopment of the site for residential development and the retention of part of the sports ground is the only solution.

"This brief's main objectives are to break the impasse, to generate a positive and acceptable redevelopment proposal and to bring back unused facilities in to community use."

Proposals included the council using the eastern half of the site, keeping the cricket pitch and football pitch and adding a pavilion, and the western half being used for residential development.

Alan Binns, resident and former chairman of the parish council, said: "If it is built on I would hope it would be the bottom part behind the houses in Colne Road which is used and the top fields left as they are."

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