FIELDS: Donate site to community

An open letter to His Grace the Duke of Northumberland.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28 March, 2019, 08:22

In September 2018 I wrote to you about my concerns regarding the proposed development by the Estates of the playing fields belonging to the ex Duke’s School.

I received a soothing letter from a member of your staff (understandably). However, with the submission of a formal proposal to build on the land, I would like to return to the subject in an open letter.

First of all, let me say how grateful I am to you and the Duchess for putting Alnwick on the map through the restoration of the castle and gardens, not to mention Harry Potter.

And I know in a quiet way you help many organisations, one being the very successful off-road cycle park.

But now the house building along our beautiful coastline and in the villages is getting out of hand.

We have almost doubled, either built or planned, the number of houses required by the Government by 2036.

The demand for second homes and holiday lets, and from incoming retirees, will no doubt continue, but there is no actual ‘need’, save, I would suggest, for affordable starter homes for our young, local people.

Our GPs and social services are struggling with the demand of an ageing population – demographically Alnwick has one of the highest in the country and this can only get worse. I am not against pensioners, I’m one myself.

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Returning to the Duke’s School playing fields, the southern section is designated ‘Local Green Space’ in the Alnwick and Denwick Development Plan (ADNP), which was affirmed in a local referendum.

Alnwick has very little green space: currently 12.94 hectares when the existing population warrants 91.64 hectares. Most towns the size of Alnwick have municipal parks, but because of the way Alnwick has developed historically, and the fact that you own most of the land, this is not the case.

However, this would be a wonderful opportunity for you to bequeath, in perpetuity, a lasting benefit to your community.

By donating this open space, with its mature lime trees and wildlife, including bats, and joining it with the adjacent play park, it would create a parkland to be enjoyed by old and young alike.

Of course, I do realise that the attractive Grade II listed school building must be renovated. A local expert has calculated that the building of the apartments and subsequent sales would still bring a profit to the Estates.

I write in the hope that you will safeguard the heritage of our beautiful county by moderating the house building, and that you will seriously consider my request to supply the means of a public park for our community.

Names and address supplied