'Save our park' – Shropshire residents rally to fight off developers

Residents are rallying together in a bid to save their play park from developers.

Vicki Brimley and residents of Dutton Close in Stoke Heath, Market Drayton, where the children's area has been fenced off and is in danger of being flattened by housing developers
Vicki Brimley and residents of Dutton Close in Stoke Heath, Market Drayton, where the children's area has been fenced off and is in danger of being flattened by housing developers

The community, of Dutton Close in Market Drayton, set up a committee 11 years ago to introduce a safe space where children could play.

That same year, the residents successfully secured a grant from the Big Lottery Fund of £49,979 to build the park as part of the Community Spaces project.

Now, work has begun to remove the play park by property developers – HJB Properties Limited – for the construction of 25 homes.

The children's area has been fenced off and is in danger of being flattened by housing developers

Resident Vicki Brimley said: "The park is the hub of the community and is not only used by families on the estate but also those from other villages and Market Drayton.

"It is the focal point for all of the local children to meet and play safely, including my own three children, twins aged 10 years and a 13-year-old.

"The park was used daily by children on the estate and its loss will have a huge impact on the social and mental wellbeing of those families who use it.

"I’ve lived on the estate since 1999 and the reason for the committee being set up was to find a safe place for the local children to play as there were many incidents being logged with the police at the time as children were playing and biking around in unsafe areas or causing a nuisance to local residents.

"Since the park opened there have been no cases of such reported to the police that I am aware of and the park has never had any issues regarding vandalism."

The park is fit with a zip wire, large climbing structure, two goal posts, an adventure trail including a tunnel, an inclusive roundabout suitable for wheelchair users and more.

Vicki claims that in the original plans set out by HJB Properties Limited, the park was not to be removed but in fact enhanced as part of the development.

She claims it was the company's intention to house their welfare facilities and vehicles on the park and use it as a compound, but have since changed its mind.

"We have no issue with the proposed plans of the 25 dwellings however the destruction of the park we do object to," Vicki said.

Vicki said that the park has secured Asset Community Value (ACV) status and residents have received support from the parish council, councillor Paul Gill, Emma Green of Shropshire Planning Enforcement and Philip Mullineux Principal Planner for Shropshire.

A spokesperson from Shropshire Council said: “While we do support the residents and have met with them and councillors to discuss their concerns, we do not own the site.

"Unfortunately, this means that we are unable to stop the removal of the park. However, we will continue to encourage the owner of the site to re-instate the area for wider community use."

HJB Properties Limited has been contacted for comment.

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