VOTE: Is it important to retain the Henty Fields as a ‘green lung’ for Chichester?

A popular green open space near Chichester city centre looks set to be preserved for years to come.

There have been concerns for years that Henty Fields, next to Central CoE Junior School, Orchard Street could be earmarked for development or closed off for public access.

But now current owner West Sussex County Council has offered the 2.8-acre site to the city council on a 25-year lease, with the city keeping it in its present form, and taking on responsibility for its maintenance.

Last week the city council voted unanimously in favour of entering into negotiations with WSCC over the site, which is regarded as a vital ‘green lung’.

Finance committee chairman Cllr Richard Plowman said the fields were a very important resource in terms of open space.

“We can take it on. It will protect this piece of land for the next 25 years, although there is some question of what we can do with it. At present it will be keeping it as a piece of grass.”

Cllr Martyn Bell said the land was more than just a piece of grass. “People will be able to play ball games and exercise their dogs - all sorts of things,” he said.” The key thing here is to get on with the negotiations and make this happen.

Cllr Clare Apel said green spaces were not abundant in the city, and it was essential to keep this one.

Cllr Goldsmith, who has been pressing for it to be preserved welcomed the decision.

She said: “This is really exciting. It is the community and the local authority working together for the community’s benefit. It is great that the city council has decided to be in partnership on this.”

Orchard Street Residents’ Association chairman Tim Rooth said: “We are very pleased with the city council’s decision. This is a great opportunity for it to take over the land, and Louise Goldsmith has been instrumental in helping to bring this about.”