HIGHLY-CONTROVERSIAL plans to erect a three-storey block of flats and a car park on a unique field used by 50 junior footballers have been knocked back following a second appeal.

Abingdon Vale Cricket Club had its appeal heard by a planning inspector last month after it had its application rejected twice by Vale of the White Horse District Council.

But planning inspector Jonathan Manning dismissed the club's appeal in a long-anticipated decision published on Tuesday following a visit to the Northcourt Lane site.

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Mr Manning confirmed that indeed, the scheme would result in the 'unacceptable' loss of a playing field, the plan would 'erode' this open space and the positive contribution that the site makes to the conservation area.

Paul Wenman, who lives opposite the field and has campaigned against the development for years, was one of the locals who attended the appeal.

He described the decision as a 'huge relief to all' in the community who have been living with this 'cloud' over them for the last three years.

Mr Wenman said: "It is as if the developer's machinery was parked at the end of the lane, waiting to move in – but we have finally sent them packing.

"There were many children playing on the football pitch over Easter, almost as if in anticipation of this decision.

"It is comforting to know that we will be able to continue to hear and see them enjoying this recreational area now that the threat of development has gone.

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"We are also delighted that the Northcourt Conservation Area has been protected.

"It is hard to express how this kind of threat to your living environment creates a level of stress, which never quite goes away, even with the delays and bigger stress resulting from the pandemic.

"But, the upside has been a coming together of our neighbourhood and wider community which would probably not have happened otherwise.

"The breadth and level of support which has been sustained over these years has been quite amazing and is testimony to how a strong community can, if organised and resilient, stand its ground against the most determined of developers."

Mr Wenman also vowed that further attempt is made to develop this land, residents will be ready to fight.