‘£80k Langborough Rec plan is taking the Mickey’By Victoria Smith
February 29, 2012
Townspeople have voted overwhelmingly against an £80,000 expansion of a town centre park amid fears the revamp would create a “Disney theme park” and blight views over the green space.
A debate on the results of a second consultation on plans for Langborough Recreation Ground, off Gipsy Lane, was due to take place last night at Wokingham Town Hall in Market Place.
In a dramatic turn around from the first consultation, local people have now said a resounding “no” to more than doubling the playground at the park and providing outdoor gym equipment along with play equipment for older children.
Most of the responses saying “no” to expanding the park came in the final three days of the consultation, which has sparked concern among campaigners in favour of putting additional equipment at the park.
However, they have been reassured by Wokingham Town Council, which is behind the plans, that the submission from the online survey had been checked to ensure individual households did not submit multiple responses to the consultation.
The results in the new consultation show more than 210 people do not want the park expanded, but do support refurbishment of the existing playground, while nearly 80 wanted the existing 680 square metres increased to 1,724 square metres.
Around 40 people voted for a compromise between the two options, with some of the proposed new equipment taken out of the plans.
These results are in stark contrast to the first consultation conducted by the town council, which revealed most people wanted extra equipment at the park to cater for teenagers, as well as younger children.
Councillor Bob Wyatt, who is ward member for the area, said: “There are two extremes in this debate.
“A lot of people want it to stay on the same footprint and the other end is those in favour of it becoming a much larger park covering an area about three times the amount that is there now.
“I think the problem is a combination of concerns about noise and losing the green space of the park.
“People around the area see it as their village green, so it is intended to be for more people than just those who live around it.”
The park is designated as a village green under planning laws, however legal guidance from Wokingham Borough Council has suggested there is no legal issue with expanding the playground.
Residents against the development objected to a planning application, which was withdrawn last month, saying the plans would create a “Disney theme park” and attract anti-social behaviour and noise.
The officers at the town council had not made a firm recommendation to councillors on the amenities committee and local people from both camps were expected to be given the chance to speak at last night’s meeting.