Fears over future of playground

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 11 May 2010

Cllr Inwood at the Betjeman Road park

Cllr Inwood at the Betjeman Road park

PLANS to close a Royston playground have sparked concern among residents and councillors. North Herts District Council s new green space action plan – a document designed to form a structured approach to the future of the district parks and open spaces -

PLANS to close a Royston playground have sparked concern among residents and councillors.

North Herts District Council's new green space action plan - a document designed to form a structured approach to the future of the district parks and open spaces - recommends that the play area at Betjeman Road should be closed as it offers "no strategic play value".

Steve Crowley, from the district council, told last week's meeting of the Royston area committee: "As it's so close to the BMX track the park has become the focus of anti-social behaviour.

"It was felt that because of this, it has become a substantial maintenance liability, and as there is no known need for the playground, the option of closure has to be considered."

However, Cllr Robert Inwood says he has been inundated with calls and emails from residents who are worried that they will use the facility.

Cllr Inwood said: "You only have to go down there during the day to see how much the playground is used.

"It is all very well insisting that developers play their part in increasing amenity areas, but the council also has to make the necessary investment into monitoring, policing and maintenance to ensure that these areas can continue to fulfil a need particularly as the gardens of new properties seem to get ever smaller.

"They talk about anti-social behaviour, but if the playground is taken away and not replaced who knows what will happen to the land."

The park was built by developers of the estate, and Mr Crowley explained that the council considered it to have no play value because the area is served by other playgrounds.

However, Cllr Fiona Hill said: "There is a need for somewhere for young children in the area. A BMX track is not suitable for them."

No final decision has yet been taken on the future of the Betjeman Road site, and anyone who wants to make their opinions known to Cllr Inwood can do so by writing to him at 9 Thackeray Close SG8 5TF, or emailing ruflying2@ntlworld.com

The strategy also recommends that improvements be made to the playground in Priory Memorial Gardens, and that the council should continue to investigate opportunities for new play areas in the west of Royston.

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