Some background information relevant to the Parish Council’s decision to support the Westfield Down project.

For many years there had been a lack of adequate recreational facilities for the residents of Westfield Parish. The play equipment was out-dated, the Parish Field was set up for football use which deterred other more general recreational use, the Scout HQ was an ancient Nissen hut and the site on which it stands has a limited tenancy. A survey of all Rother District’s recreational facilities identified Westfield as having the worst in the district and the Council determined to address these issues.

The major land owner of Westfield Down began discussions with the Parish Council in 2003 and out of those discussions a project emerged which offered an opportunity to address all these issues on a single site. In 2005 the Parish Council discussed the Down proposals with Rother District Council and the plan was formerly adopted in the District Plan in 2006, after a full public consultation and a government inspector’s report which supported the scheme. The four main advantages to the residents of Westfield were accepted.

• Firstly the potential to resolve all the recreational needs of the Parish on a single site

• Secondly the drawing of a development stop line at our eastern boundary providing a limit to any further development or extension of the village along that boundary

• Thirdly a reduction in the number of proposed houses that the draft District Plan had allocated to Westfield. Rother had identified a site off Fishponds Lane that could accommodate 67+ houses. The Parish Council negotiated that that proposal be removed from the draft District Plan and replaced with the Down housing allocation of at least 22 (now settled at 39 due to economic pressures).

• There was also a fourth consideration, namely the release of the Parish Field from regular football use, allowing it to revert to a general recreation facility more in keeping with the original endowment.

In 2008 some of the play equipment intended for the Down was installed on the Recreation Ground using money from a government grant. This was because we decided that the delays in progressing the Down project should not be allowed to disadvantage our young people any longer. This new provision does not detract from the Down scheme; it provides further opportunities for developing a wider range of recreational provision that will encourage healthy outdoor leisure opportunities for Westfield’s residents.

The site which neighbours the cricket field will provide an open space that can meet the recreational needs of our community for many years to come.

Dr C Richardson 2010

Chairman, Westfield Parish Council

The Westfield Down Project (WDP) has been an important prospect for the community for several years. The land owners, Westfield Parish Council, and the local Planning Authority have been working on the plan to provide substantial community recreation facilities and housing on land between the GP's surgery and the Cricket Ground.

Informal negotiations began in 2003. Later a formal proposal was submitted to the Planning Authority and following a public consultation and Government inspection, this proposal achieved policy status in the Local District Plan in 2006. (Policy VL11). The proposal allocates one hectare of land nearest the surgery for housing, and the remaining 2.5 hectares for general community recreation use including football pitches.

In 2007 a "Change of use" planning application was granted to the Parish Council for the football and recreation elements of the scheme (application no. RR/2007/545/P). The Parish Council has applied twice to renew this permission for another three years. Renewals were granted in July 2010 and again in 2013 (application nos. RR/2010/1111/P and RR/2013/1286/P).

In June 2014 an outline planning application by the land owners, for the housing element was approved,  subject to a Section 106 agreement which establishes the contribution required from the planning gain to be made towards to the community recreation and football part of the scheme (RR/2009/322/P).

Substantial volunteer time has been expended in taking the scheme forward and various local groups that will benefit have been consulted and contributed to the process. These include Westfield Football Club, Westfield Cricket Club, Westfield Community Association, Westfield Scout Group and the Westfield Local Action Plan Group. Mr Roger Carrier is the Parish Council representative for the project and he continues to steer the process, coordinating the work of volunteers, and negotiating with all relevant parties to take the plan forward.

Westfield Down Project - Major Report August 2016