A GREEN patch in South Oxfordshire that has been used by dog walkers for decades is set to be shut to the public within days.

Abingdon residents and their beloved pets stood defiant in the popular Drayton Field, just off Drayton Road, on Tuesday morning after a poster was put up at the entrance out of the blue notifying people that the area would be closed from Saturday.

The notice read: “In accordance with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Environmental Stewardship conservation scheme, permissive access to this field is ending on October 31.”

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Local John Watson, who has lived on the nearby Lucca Drive for more than 40 years, speculated whether Drayton Field would soon be in the hands of housing developers.

He commented: “Houses seem to pop up out of nowhere in Abingdon.

“I was told by a guy, who used to work for the council, that a new cemetery could be built there.

Oxford Mail:

“This is also a Saxon burial ground, so when we moved here, we were told that nothing would ever be built there.”

Natural England was not available for comment but in an email to Mr Watson, a spokesperson for the Government body said: “Permissive paths are created with the permission of the landowner – this was part of the Environmental Stewardship agreement that the land was under.”

They added that the scheme must be coming to an end and the owner had decided to stop allowing access.

South Oxfordshire District Council also did not provide a comment but Abingdon town councillor Alex Greenway confirmed he was investigating the ‘unfortunate’ closure.

Oxford Mail:

In an email to Mr Watson the councillor explained that the DEFRA’s Environmental Stewardship conservation scheme was paid the landowners to conserve the environment.

Mr Greenway commented: “I would imagine in this case that meant preventing cutting down the small wood located in the field and promoting wild flower growth and it seems that allowing access to the land may also have been a condition.

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“Presumably this was for a time limited period which is nearing completion.

“As it currently stands I am unaware of any planning permissions on the land for any developments.”