Proposed expansion of the Recreation Ground
By now, many of you may have seen the notices that have gone up to expand the Recreation Ground.
The old bowling green site at the back of the Recreation Ground is to be converted into a youth pitch measuring 73x45m. In addition, the council intend purchasing the land between the current cricket pitch and Cleeve Avenue and this will be converted into 6 new football pitches. There will be 1 standard pitch, 1 “4G” pitch (likely to be all weather and lit), 3 additional youth pitches and 1 Under 9/10 pitch. Along with the pitches, there is the associated ‘ball stop’ nets, additional parking space and a proposed new toilet / changing block, all accessed via High Woods Lane.
We face a dilemma here. If we oppose the current recreational plans and the land is not zoned for recreational facilities, then we run the risk that the site could be earmarked for further housing development. This area is roughly half the size of the Hawkenbury Farm development and could potentially accommodate 100 homes. The council hopes to have this earmarked as recreational facilities to protect our open spaces.
Both options have the issues of traffic, drainage, house prices and a number of other factors that will influence the decision.
The Hawkenbury Village Association would rather see the site developed for recreational facilities, than be saddled with another large scale housing development.
We do have a number of concerns about the current plans and would welcome feedback from our members.
Our concerns are:
- There is an overemphasis on football. We should look at expanding the Recreation Ground and not turn it into a football ground.
- We are losing the disused bowling green. This green fell into disuse because it did not provide disabled access. We have an opportunity to create a new outdoor bowling green adjacent to Sherbourne Close. A large percentage of Hawkenbury residents are elderly and they would welcome a facility catering to their needs.
- Should we provide alternative pitches for other sport, such as netball or rugby?
- Will any of the pitches be floodlit? Installing a ‘4G’ all weather pitch is expensive and lighting would be an obvious way to extend the playing hours and recoup any investment made. This will have an impact on the surrounding neighbourhood with bright lighting until 10pm every night.
- Will the ‘4G’ pitch and the standard pitch be fenced in the same way as the current all weather pitch?
- How will the council address the anti-social behaviour demonstrated by the current users of the all weather pitch? We currently have to tolerate vulgar language and swearing before, during and after matches. There is the ongoing issue of players urinating in the hedges.
- Will there be dedicated changing facilities for these new playing fields? As a minimum, a suitable toilet block would need to be provided to try and alleviate some of the anti-social behaviour mentioned earlier.
- The plan shows footpaths between the 2 parking areas. Will these be tarmacadam and lit?
- How noisy will the ‘ball stop’ nets be? This is particularly of importance to the residents of Sherbourne Close.
- Will adequate drainage be implemented to prevent the ditches flooding and the fields being waterlogged in the winter months.
Overall, the Hawkenbury Village Association is in favour of having this area designated for recreational facilities. However, we believe that far more consideration needs to go into what recreational facilities are provided.
The third alternative is that local residents and members fundraise and purchase the land in trust for future generations. Worth considering?
Please comment so that we can have a united conversation with the council on the proposals. You can see the full application here.