George Lambton’s playing field is only a 30 second walk from my family home in Newmarket, separated by a single row of houses and a small stream that runs through the centre of town. It is not a huge field, perhaps one kilometer square, although there is another field next to it that used to act as the middle schools playing field. The school recently closed down, so the field has been unused since then, surrounded by a high mesh fence.
To the other side of the field is a Tesco’s. It is by far the largest, and most popular, supermarket in the town, and has by and large created a monopoly on all food purchases, forcing many independent shops in the town centre out of business, unable to compete with their prices.
In the past 12 months, a proposal has been put in to purchase George Lambton’s playing field, to develop the land into a Sainsbury’s, a cinema complex and a housing estate on the relatively small piece of land- a piece of land which our family, and families all around us, have used for our whole lives to enjoy the summer sun, sit on the skate park in our teen years, toboggan down the hill on snow days off from school. It is the go to place for a large portion of Newmarket as the open space available to the community; football matches are played there each Friday, car boot sales in the summer, dog racing events and exercise classes.
Over the years I have watched developments slowly edge in on the land; longer grasses that used to surround the field are now office blocks, factories and car parks; an area to the other side of the stream is a huge car production factory that looms over the whole area, a solid cube of dull grey metal. And I will undoubtedly witness the complete loss of this area in my lifetime; perhaps to this development, which seems particularly nonsensical. What is the need for yet another supermarket, literally across the road from an existing one? It is certainly not the first time a towns needs would be forgotten in favour of profit, and of course not the last.
For now, this proposal has been denied by the council; however, with attractive bribes from Sainsbury’s of a new, high-tech artificial playing field across town, it remains to be seen how long this resolve will continue to protect George Lambton’s.