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Paving reprieve for Woodstock community garden
PLANS to bulldoze a communal garden and pave over it have been shelved after residents claimed they were only told about it days before work was due to start.
Cottsway Housing Association made the U-turn after the Oxford Mail highlighted opposition to the plans from residents who had tended to the area.
The housing group told tenants in Churchill Close, Woodstock, about its plans to “improve” the area just days before it was due to send in diggers this week.
But after the Oxford Mail contacted the association, saying residents felt their hard work in planting vegetables would be spoilt, it has now put plans on hold to carry out a formal consultation instead.
Mum-of-two Deborah Cox, 36, said: “They were just going to uproot everything and destroy all the vegetables that people have done an amazing job in growing.
“We had no chance to give feedback and it’s totally unfair.
“These are people’s homes and the gardens are treated as if they are our own place.
“People have made it into a really nice area and it just seems like a mean thing to do.”
Residents had originally complained about a children’s play area next to the garden that was in poor condition, with sewage pushing up drains and spilling on to the surface.
They said they spoke to an officer about ways to improve the area at a barbecue last summer, but claimed their ideas, including installing astroturf, were ignored.
As part of the solution, Cottsway planned changes to the area, including paving over parts of the shared space. A letter from Cottsway neighbourhood housing officer Juliet Byrne on June 17, said that she had consulted with her predecessor, Harjit Virk, about “improving the rear communal area of the flats at 10-18 Churchill Close”.
She added: “As part of the consultation it was agreed that the raised planters and the matting to the play/football area would be removed, once removed these areas would be paved over.”
Mum-of-two Tarnya Bosher, 25, said the proposed work was a cheap solution to the issues with the play area.
The care assistant said: “Something needs to be done about the play area, but we don’t want the planters taken away because that’s what makes it a proper garden.”
Cottsway spokeswoman Dee Hempstead said: “Our plans to remove the raised beds and matting and pave the area were intended to provide a safe, clean play area for the children from the flats, in a garden that gets little sun and was rather damp underfoot.
“However, following some concerns, the improvement work we had planned for the communal garden has been put on hold.
“We will now carry out formal consultation to ensure we offer other options and seek the views of all the residents affected.”
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