A farm and outdoor activity centre in Shirebrook is campaigning to be allowed to use a former school playing field so it can become a licensed zoo.
Willow Tree Family Farm has launched a petition asking Shirebrook Town Councl and Derbyshire County Council to grant it a lease to develop the former Langwith Road Playing Field,
Chair and Trustee David Anthony wants to use the four acre site in an ambitious project to expand its grazing, build a car park and more leisure facilities, including a new children’s play area.
He said expanding the site would safeguard the future for the farm, create five more jobs and give the animals there a better standard of living.
He said: “Willow Tree Family Farm is the only thing in Shirebrook for safe family activities.
“We have visitors from all over Nottinghamshire, with more than 60 schools visiting us more than 80 volunteers and nine staff members.
“If we are able to secure the land for community use, because we are a charity we will be able to create five more jobs.”
The project would also include a community cafe and camping facilities.
The charity has sent letters to Derbyshire County Council urging them not to change the use of the land so they can sell it and make a profit.
David Anthony added: “We want them to give us a long lease or a transfer of land to the community under the new Community Space Orders.”
The charity is urging members of the public to sign a petition at change.org.
Shirebrook Town Council Chairman Stephen Fritchley said he had written to Derbyshire County Council to clarify what would happen if the town council relinquished its lease on the former playing field site.
A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We’ve supported Willow Tree Farm over a number of years and continue to lease part of the former Shirebrook Community School site to them.
“The adjacent sports fields, which were also part of the former school site, have been leased to Shirebrook Town Council for use by the town’s residents for many years.
“We haven’t received formal notification from the town council that it wishes to end its lease.
“If we receive this we’ll consider appropriate future uses for the site.
“Any alternative use will need to take into account planning regulations because the land is protected in the Bolsover District Local Plan as public open space.”