CHILDREN using Henley’s adventure play area could be made the subject of a curfew.
The town council is considering banning use of the equipment after 7pm following complaints by nearby residents about noise.
It comes three years after the play area in Mill Meadows was refurbished at a cost of £60,000 and neighbours threatened the council with possible legal action if it wasn’t moved.
The council’s Mill Meadows and river sub-committee has come up with a number of possible measures to reduce noise.
One is to ban use of the play area after 5pm in the winter months and after 7pm in the summer.
Signs would be put up stating the time restrictions but committee chairman Stefan Gawrysiak admitted that enforcement would be difficult.
He suggested police community support officers could visit the area and point out the signs to youngsters using the equipment after the curfew time.
He said: “There has been nothing formal in place until now but the signs would say, ‘please respect the residents of the area’. It is about slowly encouraging people not to use it after those hours.”
Other possible measures include replacing the tyre swing, which has been the subject of noise complaints, and using a planting scheme to help absorb the noise. Councillor Gawrysiak said: “We understand the issues and we are trying to resolve them as best we can.
“With the tyre swing we are going to look at whether there is something else that is as exciting but maybe a little bit less ‘squealy’.”
He said moving the park was not an option because of the likely cost and that there was no suitable alternative site.
“This playground had been in its current location for a number of years,” said Cllr Gawrysiak. “However, we are seeking to put measures in place to minimise the noise aspects and would welcome suggestions.”
At a meeting of the committee in April, a resident of neighbouring Meadow Road spoke out in the public session. Suzanne Yeates, event manager for Henley Festival, said she had lived in her property for 19 years but the noise had only become a problem after the play area was refurbished.
She said the facility attracted large groups of people, including teenagers.
Mrs Yeates suggested removing the swings or replacing them with more static equipment such as a rope ladder and locking the play area at night.
There has been an adventure playground on the site for 17 years and the neighbouring toddlers’ playground has been there for more than 50 years.
The refurbishment in 2009 was largely paid for with a £48,000 grant from the Government’s Play Pathfinder scheme. Invesco Perpetual contributed £8,000, Henley Royal Regatta gave £1,000 and the council paid the rest. New equipment include the tyre swing, an aerial runway and a climbing wall,
But soon after the play area re-opened residents complained about the “scream-making equipment”.
At the time, Peter Rivett, of Meadow Road, said: “It has already resulted in vastly increased noise levels. There were at least five call-outs by the police on one day.
“I remain fully supportive of the town council providing recreational facilities for all age groups and no one wants to suppress the excitement of kids playing, but as the adventure playground is a complete rebuild, it should have been relocated away from residential property.”
Near-neighbourAnn Curwinsaid: “I am all for kids having a good time but we would like it to be moved to the picnic area. The big problem is at night with the noise, the cursing and the swearing. Needles have been found there too.
“We would love to have a playground — just not there.”
MrsYeatessaid: “We have had issues with noise and antisocial behaviour, both during the day and at night.
“Six to eight kids screaming and shouting during the summer months is unbearable — you can’t even have a cup of tea in the garden.
“We don’t want to be killjoys — my children have played in the playground.
“We have requested that it has no equipment that excites, that makes the kids scream. We don’t want this scream-making equipment. There are plenty of other things that can be put there.”
The possible new measures will be discussed by the council’s recreation and amenities committee on October 2.