New play area will be built near existing park as council rejects 'sensible solution'
A DEVELOPER can build a new play area a stone’s throw from an existing park – despite complaints that the idea is a “nonsense”.
The Friends of Brimsham Park pleaded with South Gloucestershire Council planners to defer a decision so talks could be held with Ladden Garden Village developers Barratt Homes to expand and improve the current play area, rather than having two separate “adequate” sites next to each other.
But strategic sites development committee members rejected the calls and approved the application at the north Yate new neighbourhood, where 2,450 homes are being built along with two primary schools, a care home, business premises and a local centre on 100 hectares of land.
One of the requirements under a legal agreement setting out what housebuilders must provide to support residents, struck when outline permission was granted in 2015, was to build a new play area for teenagers.
But when the play area plans came before the committee on February 20 Yate Town Council objected on the grounds it would “lead to separation rather than integration of the two communities”.
Town councillor and Friends of Brimsham Park treasurer Chris Willmore told members: “There is a significant play area in the park, about 30 metres away. That seems a nonsense.
“We have an opportunity to prevent it and provide one really good play area.
“The only obstacle to getting a sensible solution of co-location is that South Gloucestershire Council agreed in the masterplan to having two play areas.
“You are the only people who can unlock that mess.
“To have two play areas, run by different people, 30 metres apart means we end up with duplication and spending money to fence two areas, and on bins and all that other stuff we already have, so we end up wasting money unnecessarily that could be used for play.”
She said planning officers recommended approving the new play area only because they could not go against the 2015 masterplan – but that members could vote against it.
Ms Willmore said nearby Brimsham Green School catered for youngsters in wheelchairs and that they would be served best with one large play area, with equipment suitable for their needs.
She told members: “You’ve got the key – please unlock it by asking officers to go away and negotiate with the developer and the adjoining user, the town council, to find something the community most desperately wants.”
Yate North ward councillor Mike Drew, who referred the application to the committee because of the concerns, said the masterplan was not “sacrosanct” because alterations were often made to outline schemes.
“It’s easier to use the existing site in Brimsham Park than having to lay out the new area with additional sums of money the developer could be obliged to provide,” he said.
“People living in houses 30 metres away from the teenage play area will not be particularly happy to buy those houses.
“We should not be just bound by a decision made getting on for five years ago now, we should look at how things develop.
“I am proposing we defer a decision and instruct officers to seek discussions with the applicant, Yate Town Council and the friends of Brimsham Park to come up with a plan that’s better for the future owners of the houses and better for the existing residents of Yate.”
But a planning officer told the meeting: “Barratt’s planning agent has advised this morning they want us to determine this as it is. We have a duty to determine this application as quickly as possible.”
Mr Drew said: “My duty is not to the applicant. My duty is to residents. I am not elected by developers.”
Members voted against his motion to defer the decision by four votes to two, with the same margin approving the officers’ recommendation to grant permission for the new play area.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service