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Residents take sides over ‘teen zone’ bid
A ‘TEEN zone’ planned for a Witney field has divided residents on either side of the site.
About 300 residents have signed a petition opposing plans to create an area for teenagers on the Madley Park Estate.
The area, proposed by a project group consisting of four organisations, would include play equipment, a graffiti wall and a shelter equipped with wi-fi where youngsters could hang out.
The petitioners say it could lead to antisocial behaviour, but other residents on the estate say teenagers need more facilities.
Woodstock Road resident Barbara Hitchcox, 59, set up the petition, called ‘Stop construction of any kind on Madley Park playing fields’, with three neighbours.
She said: “It’s one of the few green areas around here in an increasingly densely built-up area, and is used by a range of people playing sport and walking their dogs.
“We want to keep a little bit of something rural and stop it from being changed into an environment that many parents are concerned is going to attract anti-social behaviour.
“It’s near elderly people in the Blenheim Heights sheltered accommodation and the two schools. It’s a safe environment but that could change.”
The group behind the teen zone was set up in 2011 and includes West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney Town Council, Sovereign Housing Association and Madley Park Residents’ Association.
It held a consultation with residents and pupils at Wood Green School, Madley Brook Primary School and Springfield School.
Youngsters asked for a skate park but eventually agreed on a ‘sky surfer’ swing, a rotating swing that spins riders in a circle.
The £19,000 swing was paid for with money from the developer behind the 1,200 home estate, as well as other grants, but the plans for the shelter and further equipment will need extra funding.
Police and residents asked the town council to remove a shelter in The Leys recreation ground in January after reported antisocial behaviour and Mrs Hitchcox said lessons had not been learned by proposing a similar facility.
Madley Park Residents’ Association chairman David Bates said: “We have a play area for younger children but we desperately need facilities for teenagers because there’s currently nothing.
“We’re aware there’s been some incidents of antisocial behaviour and we want to provide some positive activities for young people to engage in.”
He added the graffiti wall may be scrapped after opposition from residents.
District council spokeswoman Carys Davies said residents’ concerns would be taken on board.
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