Concerns over proposed Hitchin play area due to child safety fears
PUBLISHED: 06:57 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:52 03 October 2019
Plans to relocate a children's play area in Westmill have been criticised by residents over concern for child safety.
The children's play area at John Barker Place is set to be demolished as part of a £20 million regeneration of the estate - with a new space identified at Swinburne recreational ground.
Some Westmill residents have raised concerns that the new location off Swinburne Avenue could be a danger to the safety of children.
Objections submitted about the plans claim the playing fields are "out of sight" of parents and homes closer to the estate.
Westmill resident Jacqueline McDonald said: "Having spoken to so many local people at length and having read through the many objections to this proposed application I am in total agreement that this application should simply not happen.
"Many residents living close by to John Barker shops have expressed their fears of children being out of sight and out of mind."
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Another resident argued that "youths hang on the field at night at the far side, smoking and drinking".
"During the evenings it will inevitably become an area for older youths to gather and be subject. The playing fields area is already subject to vandalism," she said.
Councillor Ian Albert, speaking after chairing a meeting of the Hitchin Committee where the issues were discussed by district councillors, said: "Residents will have plenty of opportunity to raise further objections before a meeting of the planning committee in November.
"It's important to remember that we have seen a number of comments which welcome the programme.
"Clearly mixed views have been expressed, but these are exactly the views which will be reflected before a final decision is made."
Cllr Clare Billing, who represents Hitchin Oughton, added: "After a number of concerns raised on Facebook, we contacted the developers to arrange a meeting where all points of view can be raised."
The meeting is due to take place at the Westmill Community Centre next week, though a date is still to be agreed.
Plans for the £20 million regeneration of the John Barker estate - including 83 new homes and two commercial units - were submitted by North Herts District Council in June this year, after funding was provided by housing association Settle.