HOUSING plans for an old university sports field will destroy much-loved green space used by a community for decades, it has been warned.

York St John University (YSJ) want to put around 80 houses on their disused sports fields off Windmill Lane, Hull Road, but their plans have sparked a backlash from neighbours.

The fields around the David Lloyd gym have been used by residents nearby for years, they say, and destroying them will leave the community bereft.

Yvonne Kilgallon is one of many Windmill Lane residents angry about the proposals, and said: “We are quite a close-knit community down the lane, and we all use the field regularly.

“It is the last area around here where you can just go an kick a ball around. Students use it as well as families.”

Yvonne and her neighbours are furious that YSJ’s planning application says the fields are “redundant” when in fact many people use them regularly. YSJ’s alternative sports fields are on Haxby Road - too far to be of use to people around Windmill Lane.

She said: “There’s Hull Road park, which a few people do use, but it’s across a busy road.”

Her neighbour Fiona Himsworth said 15 years ago, Windmill Lane families worked alongside YSJ to save the field from development - and they are now dismayed to see the university turning its back.

In her written submission to planners, Fiona said: “It’s not just the local people who will suffer. This piece of land forms part of a wildlife corridor between the stray and the university land at Heslington East.”

The woodland is home to owls, woodpeckers and wrens, she added, and although the woods are preserved by several Tree Protection Orders they are worried they will be damaged and eroded by the development.

Julia Wright who has lived on the lane for decades said: “There are very very strong feelings about this plan. I am in my early 60s, and I have lived here all my life. We have always had unchallenged use of this field as a community area. We are close to a main road here, but this is one area where children can go an play safely.”

YSJ wants outline permission for 80 houses on the land, fewer than the 190-home proposals in the draft local plan for York.

The application should be determined by City of York Council by January 10, 2017.