Community garden idea to give Witney play area new lease of life

Lesley Senter at the fenced-off play area with daughter Evangeline, seven, and four-month-old grandson Logan Taylor

Lesley Senter at the fenced-off play area with daughter Evangeline, seven, and four-month-old grandson Logan Taylor Buy this photo

First published in News by , Witney Reporter

A DERELICT children’s play area in Witney could be converted into a community garden as part of a £20,000 project.

The site in Park Road, off Tower Hall, could include play equipment and allotment beds, with residents holding the keys.

It would mark a compromise after a campaign by parents to stop Witney Town Council from turning the land into 10 allotments.

The council’s facilities manager, Claire Swan, said: “It’s a beautiful green space but it’s locked up. If it was in any other town or city, people would bite one arm off for it, because it’s such a precious resource.

“It would be nice to see kids playing in this nice area, having fun, rather than in the street.

“They could all grow their food together, helping them take back the area and having events, while allaying fears of antisocial behaviour.”

Councillors agreed in November 2012 to close the play area and remove 30-year-old equipment due to safety problems and complaints about antisocial behaviour.

The council then suggested creating allotments, to help cut the list of more than 100 people waiting for plots. But about 200 residents signed a petition that was presented to the council in May last year, asking it to restore it as a play area.

Plans have now been drawn up for a community garden that would combine both ideas, using play equipment already in storage.

Raised flowerbeds would be installed for community growing projects and the area would be suitable for events like barbecues.

The council is holding a public consultation on the proposal and wants to hear residents’ views.

Lesley Senter, who lives next to the area, said it was a “great idea” but suggested equipment for older children should be included, such as a cricket net or an outdoor gym.

She said: “They need to make sure they incorporate something for every age group. The flowerbeds are a good idea and we definitely need play equipment.

“It’s a nice compromise. I know some people aren’t keen on having a park there but it’s always been there.

“It’s an important area because we have a lot of traffic coming along the road now so it’s worrying having the children playing on the pavement.

“We need somewhere safe for them and it has the potential to be something really nice.”

Public consultation on the plans lasts until Tuesday, September 30.

  • To see the plan and to comment, see the town council's website

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