Frustration as Chorleywood play area plans thrown out after three-year campaign (From Watford Observer)
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Frustration as play area plans for Chorleywood Common are thrown out after three-year campaign
Parish councillors have thrown out almost three year’s worth of campaigning to bring a play area to Chorleywood Common, despite district councillors offering the funds.
At a meeting on Tuesday (October 1), 13 members of the Chorleywood parish council planning committee voted against the proposed development while only three members voted in favour. The general consensus was that the allocated site would be unsafe.
The parish council owns the land but the district council owns the budget for the developments. Three Rivers District Council has set aside the funds and has been working with parish councillors, Chorleywood Residents' Association (CRA) and Friends of the Common in developing plans for the play area on an agreed location.
Simone Tyson, a member of Chorleywood Mum’s and Chorleywood Residents’ Association who has been involved in the plans for the past two years, said: "The council’s usual procedures for speaking at a meeting were changed, meaning that all registered requests were allowed to speak for three minutes. But this was not clear prior to the meeting and was not explained on arrival, so only one person spoke in favour of the application and five spoke against."
Committee member of CRA, Maria Larkin, was the only person to speak in favour of the plans.
Ms Tyson added: "It’s very frustrating. I’ve had a few emails from residents since the meeting and there’s a lot of frustration around. I think people can’t quite get their heads around the fact that it’s gone this far and then it’s suddenly a no."
CRA has consulted with residents over the last two years and concluded that the common would be the most suitable land for a children’s play area due to its proximity to the town centre.
Debbie Rosario, chair of CRA, said: "We are obviously disappointed in this decision as we have been working alongside other community groups on this project for nearly three years and it is frustrating to see the plans be rejected at such a late stage, when it has received such broad support across the community and the Common was overwhelmingly selected as the first preference for the location of the play area. Our concern now is that the money that Three Rivers District Council has allocated to the play area will be reassigned to another project and the Play Area will be lost forever.
"Equally disappointing, however, has been the behaviour and conduct of the parish council on this issue. Whilst we respect their right to vote as their conscience allows, can the parish council honestly say that they treated those parties who were in favour of the play area and those that were against it equally?"
In a statement released after the meeting, the parish council said: "Following a thorough assessment, unfortunately this site has subsequently been ruled out on health and safety grounds."
The district council has responded to the parish council's last minute u-turn by immediately seeking a new location for the play area. Site options include land owned by the district council.
Keith Williams, Three Rivers cabinet member for leisure and community, said: "The decision by the parish council is very disappointing. Young people in Chorleywood deserve a high quality and convenient playground. Inevitably Chorleywood Parish Council's decision will cause delays in providing a new play area but I hope that we can continue to work with the parish council for the benefit of the local children."
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