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United in push to save Lord Nuffield playing field
Oxfordshire head out to field against Buckinghamshire in a Minor Counties Championship match at the Morris Motors ground in 1955. The team included David Laitt, far right, one of Oxfordshire’s greatest-ever bowlers
ENGLISH sports’ big hitters have come out against building homes on a playing field at the former Morris Motors sports and social club in Cowley.
Sport England, the England & Wales Cricket Board, the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union have all told Oxford City Council they are worried about building 43 homes on the site of what became known as the Lord Nuffield Club at Crescent Road.
Vicky Aston, planning manager at Sport England, wrote to the city council, saying: “Sport England has considered the application in light of its playing fields policy. “The aim of this policy is so there is an adequate supply of pitches to satisfy the current and estimated future demand for pitch sports within the area.
“In light of the above Sport England objects to the proposal.” The England & Wales Cricket Board said there was concern about the number of cricket pitches across the county that have “disappeared” in recent years.
The cricket pitch at the old Morris Motors club was long regarded as one of the best in the county and was a regular home ground for Oxfordshire matches in the Minor Counties Championship. From 1954 to 1991, the ground hosted 32 Minor Counties Championship matches.
The ground also staged major one-day games, including the 1970 Gillette Cup game against Worcestershire. Meanwhile, the Football Association said there were too few pitches in Oxford. The plans are part of a major redevelopment of the area that will see Oxford’s first free school – the Tyndale Community School – open in the former Lord Nuffield Club building in September. After standing empty for three years the former social club was sold to developer Cantay Estates in October for just over £1.5m. Cantay Estates has sold the building, along with a portion of the surrounding land, to the group behind the free school but is planning to develop the rest of the 4.6-acre site itself. Former city councillor Bob Timbs, who lives in nearby Normandy Crescent, said the plans were “unacceptable”.
He said: “The area is built to its maximum capacity at the moment and that sports ground should be regenerated. Traffic will be chaos with 400 children coming to the school and the housing as well.”
Two separate planning applications have been submitted to turn the clubhouse into a school and to build homes on the sports field. They will be decided by city councillors at a date which has yet to be set. Tony Nolan, of Cantay Estates, said the development would bring the land, which is currently not open to the public, back into use.