SADDLEWORTH Parish Council has agreed a 30-year lease for Dawson’s Field in Scouthead to ensure the green space can continue to be used by the community.
The field, which sits alongside the A62 Huddersfield Road, hosts the Scouthead and Austerlands Whit Friday Brass Band Contest and annual Family Fun Day, as well being used by local children and dog walkers.
“I am delighted Oldham Council have now signed the lease over to the Parish Council,” said Saddleworth Parish chairman Jamie Curley.
“It is the only green space available in this area of the parish and is therefore very important to the local community.
“The Parish Council is committed to protecting the green belt and this lease will ensure its safety for a minimum of 30 years.
“The Parish Council hopes to eventually have the field permanently transferred to their ownership and will continue to work with Oldham Council to achieve this aim.
“I would like to thank my fellow councillors and officers at Oldham Council for enabling this lease to be made.
“I would particularly like to thank former councillor Rob Knotts for his hard work negotiating with Oldham Council and drawing up the business case, without which the lease would not have been possible.”
Mr Knotts, chair of the Scouthead and Austerlands Community Group, applied for Capital Asset Transfer of the field from Oldham Council to the Saddleworth Parish Council four years ago.
He said: “Transfer of ownership is very much welcomed.
“The field was very much larger than it now as Oldham Council sold two thirds of it. The great worry was the remaining part of the field could also be sold, leaving the community without a venue for the band contest or other events. With this worry in mind, I applied for Capital Asset Transfer of the field.
“Before the application was submitted, the field and its surrounds were very poor with an extremely muddy entrance, falling down walls and barbed wire.
“The community group made good all the deficiencies, ensuring the field was safe and more attractive and spending £3,260 on improving the asset’s features.
“Benches and picnic tables have been installed and an award-winning garden area developed by the group in conjunction with Waterhead Academy.”
The community group has agreed to oversee use of the field on behalf of Saddleworth Parish Council and has applied for a Local Investment Funding Grant to further improve the facilities.
The green belt site has been seen as a prime target for property developers and was first saved from being built on in 2008 by Cllr Barbara Beeley, vice chair of Saddleworth Parish Council.
She said: “This has been 11 years coming! I am pleased the field has finally been transferred to the Parish Council and will be protected for years to come.”