Friday, 12 August 2022

Residents don't want outdoor gym next door

RESIDENTS have objected to plans for an outdoor gym in Freemans Meadow in Henley.

The town council wants to improve the site, which is off Fair Mile, but neighbours are unhappy at the prospect of having fitness equipment close to their boundaries and gardens.

There is also concern about plans to introduce a footpath.

Peter Lloyd, who lives in Leicester Close, raised concerns on behalf of his neighbours at a meeting of the council’s parks sub-committee on Friday.

He said residents were “broadly” in support of improving the area but worried about their loss of privacy due to the proximity of the exercise equipment.

Mr Lloyd said: “It won’t be used for fitness purposes but will be used by young people to climb on. We don’t want structures to lift children up above head height and looking in.”

A fitness expert had told him that the equipment wouldn’t be used, so it was a waste of money.

He said the plan to have a footpath running along the boundary and the houses in Luker Avenue was “fairly unimaginative and not terribly attractive to people”.

Mr Lloyd said: “For those living in the north you have to sit at the end of your garden to get the sun, which means you are sitting close to that fence. It is not attractive to have a pathway that comes past the other side of the fence.”

A “more interesting” circular walkway could link all five entrances to the meadow rather than just the three proposed.

The council is also considering improving the children’s play area, adding a picnic area, seating and bins, improving the signage and refurbishing the entrances.

But Ian Tiffin, who lives in Northfield End, said the council would do better to look after what was already there. He said there were three children’s roundabouts and only one was working properly.

“If you can’t maintain the plot that you have, what will you do if you have something four times the size?” he said.

Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton, who chaired the meeting, said the council would listen to the neighbours when formulating its final proposals.

“Residents are there 100 per cent of the time and it is important that what we do is in line with those views,” he said.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith said he had been “pushing” for an outdoor gym for some time but suggested trialling it somewhere else.

He was also against having a footpath, saying: “I remember having Freemans as an open space. I don’t want to urbanise it.”

The sub-committee agreed to look at other possible locations for the gym.

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