Plea for Lowestoft sports area to reopen

PARENTS and children living near a refurbished play area, which has been closed for a year, are demanding that action is taken to reopen the site.

The hard court play area in Morton Road in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, was refurbished with a �50,000 Playbuilder grant last year, but shut after just three weeks because of complaints about the noise being generated by balls hitting the metal fencing.

Now after a year of being locked out of the site, which is set between houses, families who live nearby want Suffolk County Council to do more to make sure that the play area can reopen.

Penny Hutch, one of six keyholders appointed last year to open and close the court, said: 'We feel as much in the dark as anyone. We still don't have a completion date or opening date.

'We've been waiting for news for a long time - we had originally wanted it to reopen in time for Easter, but now that and the school holidays are long gone.'

Keyholder Sue Harvey said: 'It should never have got to this point. Having it locked means it is such a waste a money.'

Following a complaint in September last year, an environmental health officer visited the court and decided that noise from the surface area and the sound of balls hitting the fence was an 'unreasonable interference' with the occupiers' right to enjoy their home.

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Tests have been carried out on the surface and fencing and some extra fence panels have been put up inside the court in a bid to reduce the noise levels, but the residents of one of the neighbouring houses, who did not want to be named, said that the rulings of the environmental health officers should not be ignored and that a more appropriate site should be found for a children's play area.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said that assessments carried out before the site opened last year could not possibly have predicted the level of noise which would be generated by the particular surface and fencing.

He said: 'Testing has been carried out to identify ways to reduce noise levels coming from the existing fencing and a number of options have been identified. However, in the current tough financial climate and with the withdrawal of the government's Playbuilder, scheme it will be extremely difficult to identify funding for any extensive work to be carried out in the foreseeable future.

'The county council continues to work with partners to identify a workable play scheme in the Pakefield area'

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