Longtown residents split over plans for play area on their estate


Residents of a housing estate in Longtown have been split by plans for a new play area to be built there.

Some families at The Oaks are in favour of seeing new play equipment installed there – but others are opposed, with claims raised of youngsters gathering in the area and making a “nuisance”.

Members of Arthuret parish council have agreed to refuse an offer of £10,000 from developers Oakmere to improve the set-up at other existing play sites in the town.

They insist Oakmere should develop on its own estate.

Paul Brown, grandfather of children living on the estate, told The Cumberland News it “was designed and sold as a family area”.

“Right from the start it had a play scheme incorporated in it,” he said.

Mr Brown added residents “knew from the start” that there was going to be a play area.

“I can’t understand why they are moaning on about it,” he added.

Mr Brown said it was “not good enough” that Oakmere had offered the council money to develop other play areas because children who live on the estate would have to cross busy streets, including the A7, to get to them.

“I’m pleased to see that the parish council are not going to be bought off,” he added.

Denise Hodgson, of Oak Avenue, lives opposite to the proposed site of the play park.

“We have been plagued by anti-social behaviour,” she said.

“There’s constant involvement with the police. Everybody knows the situation.

“If a play area was to be put on there it would actually mean the equipment was going to be 10 metres from the windows at the front of our properties.

“The site is not big enough.”

One of the original planning permission requirements, in 2007, was for play provision on site.

But Oakmere says it is not something all of its residents want to see.

Mark Wilkinson, operations director for Oakmere, said: “Residents on Oak Avenue have had serious issues with children congregating and making a nuisance in this area and the adjacent multi-use games area.

“I wrote to the police and crime commissioner on their behalf and it has escalated from there.

“PC Sam Butler has also advised not to install it owing to the potential problems that have occurred with children and surrounding residents.

“This has been greatly debated by residents on site and we have been asked by various residents not to install, whereby others want it, so we consulted with the council and have requested their instruction.”

One suggestion, he said, was to install it in the grounds of Longtown Primary School.

But after months of waiting, during which the school achieved academy status, it refused to take it.

“Discussions with Carlisle City Council regarding an off-site contribution led to the offer to the parish council, but presently it is still unresolved,” added Mr Wilkinson.

“We await further instruction to fulfill our planning obligation.”

Parish councillors were keen to see a play area established on the estate.

The clerk, Karen Johnson, said: “We know there are issues with people wanting it and not wanting it but it is not the parish council’s responsibility, it is the developer’s responsibility to put a play area there.”

Councillor Margaret Gunson agreed. “I think we must support keeping the play park on the estate,” she said.

Chairman Sir James Graham added: “We are not saying we don’t want a play area but we are saying that £10,000 is not enough.”

A spokeswoman for Carlisle City Council said: “The play area on this site has been the subject of a number of discussions over the years since the original permission on the site in 2007.

“This is an outstanding matter that is still to be resolved.”

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