Play area relocation approved

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Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 9:37pm

By Saul Cooke-Black - Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to relocate a play area away from a main road in Monmouthshire have been given the green light, but councillors have said it must be enclosed amid health concerns relating to dog fouling.

Monmouthshire council’s planning committee approved proposals to move and upgrade the Chippenham Mead play area, located next to the A40, to a more central area on the village green at a meeting on Tuesday.

The issue dates back to 2014 when the county council was given £85,000 by a developer to upgrade the existing play area or move it to another location.

Opposition was voiced when Monmouthshire council initially proposed refurbishment at the existing location on Chippenham playing field, due to its proximity to the A40 and air pollution concerns.

But the new location has been welcomed by most, though councillor Mat Feakins said some people in the town do not want to see the village green ‘touched.’

Councillor Feakins said the play area’s current location is a “health risk”, and that the new location would bring the most benefits.

“There has been such a long argument that we have a whole generation of children who have almost lost the opportunity of having a play area on their doorstep,” Cllr Feakins said.

Councillor Phil Murphy also backed the relocation, saying the new location would be less noisy and is the “most sensible” option.

But councillor Alan Davies raised concerns the new location will not be fully enclosed, and said gates should be included to prevent dogs entering the area.

He said: “It seems totally illogical we have a duty of care for the heath of those children close to the road because of pollution but we are not going to have a duty of care as far as health and safety is concerned because of dog fouling.

“God forbid if something should happen to one of those children there.”

Cllr Louise Brown also raised safety concerns, saying it would not be a good idea to have a play area that children can “easily run away from.”

The council still requires village green consent for the plan to go ahead.

Mike Moran, the council’s community infrastructure co-ordinator, said including a fence could “affect the chances” of getting village green consent, as there is a ‘presumption’ against approving schemes which close off any part of the village green to the public.

However he said this could be overcome if a different form of enclosure is included instead of a fence.

The committee approved the plans on the condition that a means of enclosure is secured, and that a scheme to enhance biodiversity is developed.

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