Protestors planning live demonstration against Burnley College plans to build new campus on their cherished 'rec'
The battle to save a cherished piece of green space from becoming the site of a new 'North Campus' for Burnley College has stepped up.
Around 100 people attended a fun day held on the area known as the Clifton Rec on Saturday. And plans are in the pipeline for a demonstration outside Burnley College.
With a host of attractions, including a birds of prey display, games and refreshments several Burnley councillors also went along to show support for the protest at the fun day.
Kelly Decruz, a resident whose home looks out onto the 'rec' said: "The main focus was to bring communities together to raise as much awareness as we can, and it was also to make it a fun day for the children from different backgrounds and cultures.
"We all came together as one to fight for it and we will continue to fight for the rec, we won't give up easily."
Aswell as people from the Clifton Street, residents from Daneshouse and Stoneyholme area went along with supporters from the Cog Lane and Coal Clough area of Burnley and people from Padiham, many of whom grew up in the area and considered the 'rec' to be their back garden.
If the expansion plan gets the green light the development would include an industry hub, three education buildings, a five-a-side pitch and a car park set among green parkland within the existing Princess Way campus.
It carries on from expansion work currently taking place at the college with a new four-storey teaching building due to be completed by the end of the year, and the college’s sports and fitness centre set to grow in size.
But protestors claim the site is a 'vital' community asset, cherished by generations and is is used daily by dog walkers, families and children as a safe play area and a space to learn to ride their bikes away from busy roads.
The site, bounded by Rectory Road and Clifton Street, has all weather and basketball pitches and is surrounded by woodland and fields.
Protestors have carried out their own research and discovered the site is a haven for owls, bats and other wildlife which they say should also be protected. They have set up a facebook page devoted to the cause called Save Clifton Street and Stoneyholme Rec and members are posting pictures, videos and ideas to support the protest daily.
Kelly stressed that while residents were not against the college expansion plans it should not be at the cost of such a valued and well used amenity. And residents are arguing that Vision Park, next to the college, would be better suited for the expansion as there is space there to accommodate it.
She added: "The expansion would be a fantastic asset for Burnley but there must be somewhere else that is more suitable?"
When an outdoor play area is taken an alternative must be provided and residents have been informed that is Prairie playing fields which is around two miles away.
Kelly added: "There is nowhere in our area for children to play football if this land is taken, only on the streets where our cars are parked and there are houses.
"We do not have enough greenery at the top for them to play and they can't walk to the Prairie, it is too far away."
Protestors have enlisted the support of Sport England which has objected to the plan because there is not enough pitch provision in the town (now or in the future) so all pitches should be protected.
The site also has another vital use as an emergency landing space for the air ambulance and this has been called into play several times. If the land is built on this would be no safe landing area near to several major roads for quick access to a casualty.
Kelly added: "Our reckory is in one of the most diverse areas in the community that depend on this space for their mental health and wellbeing.
"The council supported the local plan and it does not propose building on this area."