Oxford town green bid delays pool plans

An application to register an Oxford park as a town green has delayed building work on a new swimming pool.

Local residents submitted a bid to Oxfordshire County Council to protect Blackbird Leys Park from development.

Oxford City Council had been due to start work on the £9.2m competition-standard pool alongside Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre on 5 September.

Campaigners argue that too much of the park has already been "nibbled away" to accommodate buildings.

William Clark, who is leading the campaign, said: "The swimming pool is an aside issue. It's a green space and once it's gone, it's gone.

"They have been gradually nibbling away at the green space - first the college, they extended the school, then the tennis courts disappeared and another building has gone up over there."

'Doomed to degenerate'

The council said town green status would prevent it from enforcing by-laws which restrict activities such as golf and riding motorbikes in the park and would effectively block £150,000-worth of improvements to a play area on Pegasus Road.

City leisure councillor Van Coulter said: "While our legal advice gives us confidence that we will defeat the town green application on the grounds that the area is already a park, it will result in a delay to starting the scheme.

"Blackbird Leys Park is a park for everyone's enjoyment including sport and leisure pastimes.

"It needs to develop reflecting the needs of the city and the local community and not be frozen in time and therefore doomed to degenerate."

The authority has increased contingency funding for the scheme to £350,000 to help cover the cost of the delays.

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