Thursday, 7 March 2013

Trading the Abbotts Barton parkland against land at the 'Cadet Site' is not trading like for like!

The Winchester City Councillors are proposing to use the 'Cadet Site' area as an area to compensate for the loss of play area in the parks of Abbotts Barton. (Their proposals are available for viewing on the 27 February meeting page.)

However, this trade is not welcomed by parents in Abbotts Barton.

The land at the 'Cadet Site' will never be able to be used as a play area like the parks as it is too far away from the houses in Abbotts Barton and parents in general feel it is not a safe for their children to go down there on their own. There was an attempt to use it as play land in the past but this failed miserably. If this area is made again into an accessible green area it will be more appealing to dog walkers than for play and therefore would be effectively for adult use only and not for children.

Currently the WHOLE area of the Abbotts Barton parks can be used as play area, not just the fenced-in playground, that one is only a small part of the park and not the only area used for play. This nicely caters for people with children of different ages: for younger ones the playground is perfect, older ones can be in the open park without their parents fearing to lose sight of them. Generally the main park is used for ball games, picnicking, birthday parties, community events like the big lunch and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee party, and sledding in winter (see our photos in the gallery). The Dyson Drive Green has been used similarly for games and picnicking.

Councillors are saying that they want to take away only a certain percentage of the parks we have, 50% of the Dyson Drive Green, 15% of the main park (see this article). However, in reality this will mean that more parkland is affected simply by how close the new houses will be to the remaining green areas and therefore more of those green areas cannot be used any more the way they were used.

So far these green spaces have been surrounded by roads, walls and natural borders, so there was a safe distance to buildings when playing ball games and also helping to keep noise from play to a minimum. We fear that a similar distance will have to be kept to any new buildings on the parkland, otherwise there might be complaints from the new tenants.

On top of that, at the Dyson Drive area there will have to be car access to new houses on the other side of the remaining green which according to the current proposals divides it and makes the whole area less safe and less appealing for play.

The Council plans included landscaping for the main park - again, this is not what is needed. It would possibly make the area more beautiful but it doesn't cater to the needs of the children who like to play ball games. Two new goals instead of the dilapidated old one and enough space to run around would be much more appreciated. It is hard enough to get children to go and play outside these days - why do we need to make it even harder by taking away their much loved and safe play areas?