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Play area plans defended

PUBLISHED: 11:04 15 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:34 06 July 2010

A COUNCIL has defended its plans to transform a rundown site near Lowestoft into an open community play area despite opposition from some neighbours who fear it could become a hub for anti-social behaviour.

A COUNCIL has defended its plans to transform a rundown site near Lowestoft into an open community play area despite opposition from some neighbours who fear it could become a hub for anti-social behaviour.

Suffolk County Council has secured a government grant to turn the hard court area between Morton Road and St George's Road in Pakefield into an open access play and social space with areas for ball games, a seating area and goals.

But some people living near the site say the hard courts were closed in 2005 after reports of anti-social behaviour and now they are worried the same thing will happen again.

Rosemary Eastwood, who lives on St George's Road, said: “The sticking point for us is over unsupervised access. As someone living right next door to the site, I can see that it's not going to be successful if our views and needs are not accounted for. It's not going to be a success if the county council doesn't have the support of the community. It needs to be run properly.”

She added: “The site is ideal for organised group use at set times, but not as an open play space.”

A management group, which includes local residents who are keen to see the site developed, has now been set up to discuss preferred opening times and uses for the facility. Members of the group will also hold keys so they can open and close the gate to the court at the agreed times.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said that open unsupervised access to the site would mean residents taking a “watchful eye approach” and working with community police officers to ensure that the court is used properly.

He said: “Consultation has taken place through letters to residents, both individual in response to specific queries and general to 250 households, two public meetings and the recent initial meeting of the management group.

“I think it is common ground among everyone involved that the anti-social behaviour at the play area only started when the play area was closed. The site always had unsupervised play.

“There is massive support for, and some considerable involvement locally with, this play area, and everyone concerned is confident it will be a massive success, with minimum inconvenience for anyone living locally.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said local officers were keen to see the site improved and would work with the community to ensure that it was properly policed.

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