DEFENCE chiefs have come under fire for selling-off part of a Hampshire village green and a large field where children have played for more than 50 years.
Furious residents in Barton Stacey, many of who have young families, were only told a few weeks before the sell-off.
Parish chiefs want to buy the field but cannot afford the £90,000 price tag.
The parish council is already raiding its reserves to buy a sports pitch behind Barton Stacey Primary School and most of The Green - both of which it currently leases - for £7,500.
However the MoD refused to sell all The Green despite it being a popular play area and site for village events, including a Jubilee party and carols around a Christmas tree.
Villagers say they could have raised money to buy the field and the rest of The Green if they had received more notice.
The field off Bullington Lane is going under the hammer in London on February 19 as one 11-acre lot with a larger field leased to a tenant farmer despite requests for it to be divided so the village can buy the so-called “tennis court field” at a lower price.
Other plots to be auctioned-off are a 0.5-acre slice of the village green, a 0.6-acre site with 10 rented lock-up garages in Roberts Road for and a 0.5-acre green space in West Road.
Currently, all the plots are designated countryside and out of bounds to builders.
But they are expected to be snapped up by housing developers who will apply for a change of use.
The reserve prices for the four lots add up to a hefty £335,000 but are likely to fetch far more.
Paul Gibson, chairman of Barton Stacey Parish Council, said: “This is the biggest event that has happened in the village for a long time.
“The general feeling is if the large field is sold to a developer we will get perhaps 50 or 60 houses there which would be a significant increase in the size of Barton Stacey which only has about 330 homes.
“There is a great deal of interest in retaining the smaller field with the tennis court on it because children have played in it extensively for more than 50 years.
“There are people in the village who could afford to make a contribution but if it goes to auction and is sold as a single lot we certainly could not afford to buy it.”
Mr Gibson said the village only just met its open space requirement with the current play areas and recreation ground.
Samantha Lee, a mum-of-one, who has lived in the village since she was a child, said locals had been “knocked for six” by the speed of the sell-off.
She said: “If only the MoD had been more upfront and open. There is no time to plan with local groups about joint mortgages to buy plots together. These are huge acres of land being sold in large lots.”
The parish council is planning an emergency meeting for residents in the village hall this Sunday (Feb 10).
Asked why they had not given the village more notice, an MoD spokesman said all the land was placed on the Register of Surplus Land in April 2011.
She said; “The MoD engaged with the parish council and as a result is offering it the opportunity to purchase the sports pitch adjacent to the school.
“Throughout this process the MoD has acted in accordance with Treasury guidelines which require government departments to maximise receipts from the sale of surplus land for the benefit of taxpayers.”