Friday, 25 June 2021

Neighbours force second rethink on games area

PLANS for a multi-use games area in Watlington have been withdrawn for the second time.

The parish council wants to create two pitches for football and netball at the recreation ground but residents in nearby Love Lane have raised concerns about light and noise pollution, access and hours of use.

The council first submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, in June but withdrew it the following month after being asked for more information.

Amended plans were then submitted but these were withdrawn last month.

Watlington parish councillor Roger Beattie said: “We decided to withdraw it and come back with more detail.

“Some of the neighbours from Love Lane are worried about lighting and how it would be managed so we’re putting together a letter to residents with more details.”

The council is proposing a token system for the floodlights and that they cannot be used after 10pm.

Cllr Beattie said: “The residents were also complaining about people going to the toilet in the trees and hedges so next year we’re going to put some toilets in the recreation ground all being well. We really want to get this approved so we can then sort out the funding because you can’t apply for any grants until you have planning permission.

“As Watlington grows, it’s going to need that facility.”

Penny Rixon, who lives in Love Lane, said she was concerned about being disturbed by both the lights and noise.

She said: “I appreciate my property backs on to a recreational area but frequently experience the lack of consideration for residents where the level of noise and antisocial behaviour is concerned and also lack of toilet facilities.”

Barry Adby, also of Love Lane, said: “We back directly on to the recreation ground and will therefore be subjected to even more noise and abusive language than we already put up with now.

“We also have concerns that with more people using this area we will have even more youths using our fences as a toilet, which we have written to the parish council about.

“Until toilet facilities are provided for general use, as the ones in the sports pavilion are only available when it is in use, we think planning permission should not be given. The floodlighting is also of concern as we could be lit up most nights during the winter months as the two trees will be bare of leaves and afford no screening.”

Mr Adby said the amended plan stated that the lights could be used until 11pm, which he felt was
unacceptable.

Fellow resident Doris Norcutt said she would also feel the “full force” of the lighting.

She added: “I already have people climbing over my fence to get into the recreation ground as it has only a low wire fence and I get abuse when I tell them the entrance is further up the road.

“This will only get worse with the games area being so close to the top of my garden.

“I also get youths using my fence as a toilet, which I find offensive and I cannot see this getting any better with it being used more.”

Jessica Worley, of Love Lane, said: “We vehemently object to the building of a multi-use games area with lighting in the location proposed and are concerned that the plan does not give due consideration to certain restrictions being included.

“The location is far too close to the residential properties in Love Lane and will cause late night noise and light pollution, as well as environmental problems, to residents on Love Lane. Since moving to Love Lane in February we have encountered a number of incidences of latenight music from events held at the skate park as well as groups of teenagers congregating to drink and play music and urinating under the trees at the back of our property.

“The current use of the recreation ground is unregulated and our fear is that this development, with the addition of floodlighting, will bring further late night disturbances and nuisances to the residents.”

Mrs Worley said that if the council went with an alternative plan to use Masons Field it would avoid these issues as the area was much further away from houses.

Charles Lane said: “Toilet facilities are a concern as it is not apparent what, if any, provision is made for these within the application. There are already issues with residents’ fences being used as toilet facilities.

“Noise is another factor in view of the proximity to houses in the immediate local area.”

The district council has asked for information about the times of use of the floodlights and whether the facility would offer free community use all the time or whether it would be bookable.

Landscape officer Marybeth Harasz also wants information on fencing, drainage and footpath widths.

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