£80k games area in Highworth in doubt due to fears over anti-social behaviour and vandalism (From This Is Wiltshire)
£80k games area in Highworth in doubt due to fears over anti-social behaviour and vandalism
TWENTY-YEAR-OLD plans to provide young people with a recreational facility worth nearly £80,000 are at risk of being derailed by mounting opposition.
A planning application for the construction of a multi-use games area, skateboard park and four-metre-high fence at Highworth Community Centre in The Dormers is currently under consideration by Swindon Council.
Highworth Town Council lodged the application after a survey carried out by Swindon Youth Services with the town’s children yielded the games area and skate park as suggestions for what they wanted in Highworth.
That survey was carried out more than two years ago, following 20 years of constant requests from Highworth youths for a facility to be built.
Today brings to a close the application’s public consultation period, which has opened the floor up to several sources of opposition, mainly residents and police. Their concerns centre on the chances of vandalism, anti-social behaviour, noise pollution and how a 24-hour facility would be policed.
The development would be built on the unused playground north of the community centre, which used to be Northview Primary School, and sit to the rear of houses in Knowlands.
Two residents in Knowlands who oppose the plans, Jonathan Whittaker and Amanda-Jane Whittaker, wrote: “With the facility being open 24 hours, unsupervised, away from a road and no extra lighting will allow for an ideal location for undesired behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse.”
Coun Maureen Penny (Con, Blunsdon & Highworth) said: “You could say that for any dark, unsupervised field anywhere.
“It will have street lighting and won’t be like the middle of a field.
“Of course, the benefit of it being in a residential area means people will soon complain if unruly behaviour breaks out.
“Children do need somewhere to play. There is not a lot for children to do in Highworth.
“If there isn’t anything for them they will find somewhere and sometimes that’s illegal.
“I hope it goes through, but that it goes through to everybody’s satisfaction.”
The application is still awaiting comment from leaders at the community centre itself, who have until September 25 to lodge their opinion, while the town council is still to submit an official noise assessment of the site.
Also in opposition to the plans, Bob Walton, Crime Prevention Design Adviser with Wiltshire Police, wrote of how anti-social behaviour complaints rise when similar facilities have been placed near residential areas, and this increases the policing burden.
A decision will be made by the council on or before October 7.
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