Update in November: The play area was officially opened for use on Saturday, November 12, but retrospective planning permission is awaited for the zip wire.
Our original story on October 25: New play equipment on Ridgewood Recreation Ground will remain fenced off until it has been approved for use by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Residents at a meeting of Uckfield Town Council’s environment and leisure committee asked last night why the area was still fenced off and were told a RoSPA inspection was due to take place this week.
The question was asked by a representative of recreation ground neighbours who are upset by the height and placement of some of the equipment.
Mr Peter Selby said that while there were issues with an “over height” climbing frame they couldn’t understand why childen weren’t allowed to use the equipment during half term.
Mr Selby also amended action points he had listed in an email to the council in advance of the meeting.
He hoped compromises could help with resolving the matter.
He added: “We have had, over the last five years, quite enough aggravation in Ridgewood what with the road closure dispute, and the bowls club one and a half years ago, and it has drawn a wedge between residents which is very upsetting.”
Originally he had called for:
- Removal of a zip wire and frame
- Removal of a tall climbing frame (with cover)
- Removal of a covered shelter
- Removes of the multi-use games area
- Removal of a metal fence around play area to be replaced by timber rustic-style fence
- Improved screening between the play area and the existing hedge.
Last night he accepted the zip wire was the subject of a retrospective planning application.
He said he was sure issues with the “over height” climbing frame could be discussed with the town council and that variations could be agreed and appropriate recommendations considered.
He said a covered seating area, which looked like “something from Benidorm” could be re-sited.
He understood a multi-use games area would not be moved but said there could be issues relating to that being built on the village green and that had to be looked into.
Mr Selby accepted metal fencing around the play area should stay, though he said rustic fencing would have been preferable.
Mr Josh Gibbens submitted a petition of more than 500 signatures to stop the removal of new playground equipment and shared comments from residents who welcomed its provision.
Town councillor Paul Sparks, who is not a member of the environment and leisure committee but attended last night’s meeting made three points. He said:
- Residents had not been consulted on the location of the play park. “An environment and leisure report on July 11, 2016, merely states that the play area could be moved slightly to the east of the current playground. In fact town councillors were only made aware of the location by email on Friday, September 9, and work commenced on Monday, September 12.”
- The town council should have been aware planning consent was required for the zip wire being above four metres high. If a planning application had been submitted residents could have seen the plan and location before work commenced and made comments.
- The covered shelter was a late addition and located as close as possible to New Road and the houses. “Again the environment and leisure report talks about the shelter being adjacent to the play area, not a specific location. This must be moved to more appropriate location in consultation with local residents.”
Cllr Sparks said he fully supported the concept of a new play area for Ridgewood and, with some changes and improvements, it could work for children, parents and local residents.
Others at the meeting spoke in support of keeping the play equipment which they had waited many years to see installed.
Committee chairman Cllr Mick Dean thanked all who spoke saying they helped the committee to understand the views of the community.
He said there was no provision for making a decision in relation to Ridgewood Recreation Ground at the meeting but he would like to respond to statements made and to give a summary of discussions that had taken place.
He suggested that screening be given the chance to grow and said the council could monitor the park on-going.
Members of the environment and leisure committee present at the meeting:
Cllr Mick Dean, Trust Independent, New Town (chair)
Cllr Diane Ward, Trust Independent, Central Ward
Cllr Duncan Bennett, Trust Independent, New Town
Cllr Helen Firth, Conservative, Central
Cllr Jacqueline Beckford, Independent, Ridgewood
Cllr Ian Smith, Independent, Ridgewood
Cllr Keith Everett, Independent, Ridgewood
Cllr Donna French, Trust Independent, Uckfield North
Cllr Barry Mayhew, Independent, New Town
Find previous stories about the installation of new play equipment at Ridgewood here: