Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Residents object to outdoor arts stage

RESIDENTS have objected to plans to build a performing arts stage in Watlington.

The parish council is seeking planning permission to build the stage in the Paddock, a green area off Old School Place.

Some residents are concerned about the size and design of the structure, the loss of green space and the strain on parking as well as the impact of noise from performances.

Anthony Forbes Watson, of High Street, said he was “dismayed” by the plans.

He said: “It would destroy the beauty, peace and tranquility of an invaluable natural haven at the heart of a crowded town.

“It would introduce an out-of-character, ugly eyesore into the Paddock and a mature tree would have to be destroyed to make room for it.

“It would be a regular and frequent source of noise pollution for all the many surrounding residents, who have a right to the enjoyment of their own properties and to a good night’s sleep.”

Mr Forbes Watson said the stage would also attract large numbers of extra people to the town centre and increase the risk of antisocial behaviour.

Martin and Sue Ford, of Davenport Place, said: “We already suffer from people defecating and urinating in the alleyway between the garages.

“The antisocial elements will now be provided with shelter to carry on dealing and drinking 24/7.

“This will severely impact on our ability to enjoy our garden in peace.

“The visual impact on the park will be detrimental to the overall peace and solitude that the gardens currently afford us all.”

The couple added: “There is no proven demand for such a facility.”

Josephine Watts, of Couching Street, said she strongly objected as the Paddock was the only “oasis” in Watlington where residents could escape the “choking” traffic fumes and the risk of being mown down by a heavy goods vehicle.

“The proposed structure is exceptionally ugly and totally out of keeping with its surroundings and the noise pollution would travel far and wide,” she said.

A petition opposing the plans was signed by 16 people.

The parish council’s planning committee backed the plans by five votes to three.

Councillor Rob Smith said most of the residents who had visited the council’s offices to raise their concerns had been reassured.

Councillor Ian Hill said the council should have engaged more with the residents of Old School Place.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will decide the application.

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