Sunday, 26 September 2021

New all-weather pitch would just attract rowdies, claim villagers

RESIDENTS have criticised plans to build an all-weather sports pitch in Stoke Row.

The parish council wants to convert part of Cherry Orchard, off Cox’s Lane, to provide the new facility, next to a new £48,000 play area, and fence it off.

It has applied for funding from Tesco’s “Bags for Help” scheme and could receive between £8,000 and £12,000.

But Doug Stammers, who lives in Cox’s Lane, claims that antisocial behaviour has increased since the playground was installed and that the sports pitch would make the problem worse.

He said: “Living, as we do, adjacent to the playground, we have already experienced an increase in noise and rowdy behaviour from older children and youths who are frequenting the playground, using bad language and generally being unruly.

“My next-door neighbour in Main Street recently had to remonstrate with a group of youths who were causing a nuisance and antisocial behaviour — a brave act considering there were several youths to confront and ask to behave appropriately.

“In the past we have had to put out fires started by older children.” Mr Stammers, who lives with wife Valerie, said the land should be protected and not developed.

He said: “The orchard is an area of land set aside with particular significance to the Maharajah’s Well itself and is the subject of covenants to protect its future and to limit its development.

“The proposal now being considered is in breach of the spirit of those covenants and will, if it proceeds, turn the orchard into a playing field. Isn’t the lovely new playground enough?

“The village already has a substantial recreation ground where sports are played and it is there that such an area as proposed should be created.”

Richard Hemphill, of Main Street, said parish clerk Claire Dunk had told him that there would be a public consultation on the proposal in the spring but he still didn’t want the sports pitch.

“The orchard was set up in trust in perpetuity and provides a lovely green space and I think that was what the trustees originally wanted,” he said.

“It is not for us to mess up. We have a green in the village and it is accessible to all. They already have the play area and they have done a very good job and it is tucked away in a corner near the shops and the school. We don’t need any more.”

Sandra Clayson, of Nottwood Lane, said: “I am really sad that they would want to urbanise a protected site. I don’t understand where the idea came from and why it has come about.”

Mrs Dunk said there would be more discussions following the public consultation.

“There is no way that it is set in stone to do this project,” she said. “The size of the area hasn’t been determined — it is not a massive great big area. It would have to have a fence around it because it is a children’s play area.”

She admitted the application for funding to Tesco was “vague”.

She said: “It applies to a very small area and that will depend on the amount of money. We will go to a public consultation when we have a clearer idea of how much money might be available to us.

“Residents have every right to object. We want to listen to what the village has to say. Hopefully we will do something that makes everyone happy.”

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