Woman fails to save ‘regularly used’ children’s play area

Felicity Irving had been battling to save the children's play area in Cuckfield. Picture: Steve Robards
Felicity Irving had been battling to save the children's play area in Cuckfield. Picture: Steve Robards

A Cuckfield woman has lost her battle to save a children’s play area in the village.

Felicity Irving had been battling to save the area of meadowland at the end of Courtmead Road, since the council got planning permission to sell it as a building plot for a luxury five-bedroom detached house in December 2013.

Ms Irving argued that the land, which was originally set aside as allotments, was ‘regularly used as a play area by a nursery and other children’.

Her lawyers told London’s High Court it was known in the village as the ‘play meadow’.

The plot was put up for £1 million, amidst protests from Ms Irving that the building of a house on the plot would spoil the existing ‘panoramic views’.

Ms Irving went on to successfully challenge the planning permission in the High Court.

But in April 2015, the council again granted itself permission to sell the land.

Ms Irving told the High Court that the second grant of permission was ‘materially identical’ to the first and ‘ought to be quashed’.

But the judge, Sir Ross Cranston rejected her application for judicial review, after hearing the council’s barrister, Rupert Warren QC, argue that the flaws in the original decision had been successfully cured.

Judge Cranston said the council had made the decision to sell off the land in order to ‘maximise capital receipts in a harsh financial climate, against a background of central government asking councils to maximise their assets’.

“Mid Sussex District Council felt it needed to sell the plot in the face of central government funding cuts to ensure that the resources were available to maintain services across the district,” he added.

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