A last-ditch effort was made yesterday to try to stop work continuing on building a new play area and multi-use games area on Ridgewood Recreation Ground.
People living in New Road opposite the recreation ground said they hadn’t been properly consulted about the plans or told work was due to start. They had also discovered the land was registered as a ‘village green’ and said it should be kept as open space.
Michael Williams, his wife Anne Parker, her daughter Beth, and neighbour Carol Sweetland all agreed equipment on the play area needed replacing but they didn’t think it should take up more land than previously and they opposed the building of the multi-use games area (MUGA).
Mr Williams said the recreation ground was registered as a village green in 1979 and it should remain an open space. He added the MUGA would be built inside a cage taking away open space.
The residents also said they hadn’t been properly consulted about the plans.
They said people were presented with a choice of seven designs from different companies at an exhibition at Uckfield Civic Centre and invited to feed back their views.
Anne Parker said that wasn’t the same as residents being asked right from the start what they would like to see included on the recreation ground.
Carol Sweetland said she had managed to stop a hedge on the recreation boundary being taken down on Monday and had received assurances that would not happen now.
Michael Williams said the residents felt powerless to affect what was happening outside their own homes.
Annette Butler, who also lives in New Road, said the first she knew of the work was when a sign went up last week and then work started on Monday.
“As a resident it appalls me that they can do this on a village green without even consulting people opposite.
“This is setting a precedent for every single village green in Sussex. They used to play cricket out here and now there are going to be zip wires and adult gyms without even consulting us.
“This is not democracy. It has just been pushed through. It is a green space. They were going to rip out the hedge and put a laurel one in. I can’t believe people are allowed to do this.”
The town council responded saying: “The town council welcomes the start of works at Ridgewood Recreation Ground to upgrade the play area equipment for the benefit of local residents.
“This has followed a period of at least 12 months of discussion and consultation regarding the site and has received a great amount of positive feedback.
“In response to a couple of recent concerns regarding the designation of land at the recreation ground, the town council has reviewed its deeds and sought advice from its solicitors.
“The land upon which the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) is proposed to be sited falls outside of the common land/village green status acquired by the town council in 1978 for the main area of the recreation ground.
“Works to upgrade the play area are considered to fall outside of any restricted works and there is still a large area of land available whilst this upgrade takes place, on which residents can enjoy and exercise their Common Land rights.
Read previous Uckfield News stories about the Ridgewood play area upgrade here:
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