‘We will form a committee’ – Car park plans for Barkway Recreation Ground put on hold due to strong public response

Barkway Parish Council had proposed to build a car park on part of the recreation ground, but have n

Barkway Parish Council had proposed to build a car park on part of the recreation ground, but have now postponed the decision. - Credit: Archant

A proposal to build a car park on part of Barkway Recreation Ground was put on the back burner at a meeting on Monday night, as villagers came forward to oppose the plans.

The parish council originally proposed to use part of the land along the western edge of the recreation ground to build a car park, with councillors arguing that a lack of spaces for vehicles has caused safety issues.

Instead of proceeding with the plans, the chairman of Barkway Parish Council declared a committee will now be formed instead – who will be tasked with coming up with a solution to the parking overspill.

Chairman Sonia Falaschi-Ray told the Crow: “It was a pretty robust meeting in a sense that there was a lot of people who came along who had strong views.

“As a result, we are postponing the decision and we are going to form a committee to come up with other solutions – the committee will be made up of members of the parish council, the village hall, the social club and interested villagers.”

About 40 people went along to the meeting – which was attended by all of the parish councillors, district councillor Morris Gerald and county councillor Fiona Hill.

On the night options discussed like using land at the back of the social club and neighbouring village hall across from the ground to accommodate more vehicles. But it was noted that this would mean the land would have to be tarmacked over, and this would require planning permission.

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“The other option is to use some of the land next to the recreation ground, but this would be up to the generosity of the landowner as it is private land,” said Mrs Falaschi-Ray.

“It’s not a very big chunk of the rec we proposed to use, and we didn’t predict the level of emotional response the plans have got.

“It wasn’t that we hadn’t thought of these other options, it’s just that we thought we had the best option and the feedback we had in emails was generally more supportive than not, but on Facebook that’s where people were complaining.

“If the committee can come up with suggestions we can look to do something. The trouble is you can’t please everyone, but we are trying to do the best we can do.”

Kate Gregory – who attended the meeting with fellow campaigners told the Crow:

“Our little, rapidly formed, campaign group – Alison Gower, Michelle Bonfield, Lynette Tully and myself – had prepared a statement which was read out at the meeting and submitted a petition with 166 signatures and statements from users of the recreation ground and play equipment from the surrounding villages and towns, not just Barkway.

“We are pleased with the parish council’s decision to defer the proposed changes. There was a great turnout of locals to offer their opinions, and we must say how accommodating the parish council was to allow all who wanted to speak to have their say – for this all were grateful.

“The main consensus from the external attendees is for the parish council to look towards a more long-term solution which would benefit all villagers and visitors to the recreation ground.”

“Our only concern – and that of many attendees and signatories of the petition – is that views of all users of village amenities should be considered, not just parish residents. We feel this this is unfair, especially as the proposed car parking is mainly for use for non-village residents’ events.

“We hope, with the formation of the working group, all views will be considered.”