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Delight as Sun Corner in Billericay is safe for town at last

By Billericay Gazette  |  Posted: August 18, 2012

  • CELEBRATION: Councillors celebrate the news that Sun Corner was going to be nominated as a Queen Elizabeth II playing field last year

  • ENJOYMENT: Dancers performing at Sun Corner in this year's SummerFest

  • JUBILEE: Sun Corner was the site of a Jubilee Beacon and celebrations in June

  • SAFE: Sun Corner is known as Billericay's green lung

  • PREY: A falconry display at a fun day on Sun Corner in 2009

  • CONCERN: Town councillor Jim Devlin, left, and borough councillor Phil Turner, were anxious to see the land secured

  • PICTURESQUE: Daffodils coming through in 2008

  • HEAVE: Scott Draper leads the Billericay Fire Brigade to victory over the police in the tug-o-war in the 2007 fun day

  • BIRD'S EYE VIEW: Sun Corner, bottom left, seen in the context of Billericay High Street, taken in 2003

  • CLASSIC: Punters admire the motors at the 2007 fun day

  • FUN: Crowds flock to the 2005 Sun Corner fun day

  • CLOWNING AROUND: Gof the Clown and Cherry Patient, eight, have fun in 2003

  • 2000: Organisers gear up for a millennium celebration

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FIVE years after it first tried to secure Sun Corner, Billericay Town Council has finally triumphed.

Fields in Trust, which is behind the playing fields scheme, confirmed the Deed of Dedication has been signed, much to the delight of town council chairman councillor John Buchanan.

Mr Buchanan has also seen a copy of the land registry document with the amendment stipulating that Sun Corner cannot be developed.

He said: "It is fantastic news. The town council has been trying for several years to achieve this.

"I can't say how pleased I am."

The six-hectare green space, the majority of which is owned by Essex County Council, but maintained by Basildon Borough Council, has never had any formal proposal for development.

But having seen other green spaces in the borough sold off for housing, the town council wanted to secure the future of Sun Corner for the residents.

The land was left to the people of Billericay in the 1930s by a farmer.

It went into public ownership and fell under the aegis of the County Council.

"The people of Billericay were very suspicious that democratic control wasn't enough," said Mr Buchanan.

"As development land, it would be worth millions of pounds."

The idea of the playing field status is to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but it needed the landowner – the county council – to make the application at the suggestion of the town council.

Given the county council's previous objection to Sun Corner gaining village green status, a move that would have also protected it against development, there was not much optimism the authority would accept the playing field scheme.

"We weren't that optimistic when we made the application to the county council," said Mr Buchanan, "but on this occasion they said 'yes, it would be a great idea'."

The new status means Sun Corner is the only Queen Elizabeth II playing field in Essex owned by the county council.

A celebration is being planned for later in the year and the Woodland Trust will also provide 100 oak saplings to create a new Jubilee Wood on Sun Corner.

County council chairman, Kay Twitchen, said: "It's absolutely brilliant. We've been working on this for a long time.

"I wanted Sun Corner secured from development. The problem was village-green status effectively sterilises the land.

"No one wants to build on it, but if you want any parking barriers, or goalposts, you'd have to get permission from the Secretary of State.

"Playing-field status means that if you want to put goalposts on it, for example, you go to the Fields in Trust and it will look at it, so long as it's for public use."

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