Play Area Project

Introduction

As anyone who is a keen follower of village life will know, the Parish Council has long harboured an ambition on behalf of its residents to re-introduce a children’s play area to replace the one previously located on Fordham Heath. The latest phase of this project which has been ongoing for more than 15 years sees a new proposal submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for approval.

History

Eight Ash Green did benefit from play area facilities located on Fordham Heath to the rear of the Cricket Pavilion but since that reached the end of its usable life and was removed the parish has suffered from a recognised deficit in formal play facilities. The Parish Council has attempted on a number of occasions since then to provide new facilities but has unfortunately been unable to do so to date despite the best efforts of Councillors.

A number of locations have been looked at in the past in all areas of the village, including re-establishment of a facility on the heath. The latest phase of this project was kick started when the Parish decided to produce a Parish Plan for the village.

Current Project Progress

As part of production of the parish plan, the group undertook a survey during 2010 of all residents and businesses in the parish regarding what they valued and wanted to see in the village. One of the sections in the survey talked about facilities in the village and as part of this asked the following three questions;

  • Q30A asked if people would like to see a new children’s play area in the village, with the vast majority of respondents (240) saying Yes.
  • Q30B asked if it should be located on the heath, again a large majority (220) said Yes.
  • Q30C asked about other suitable locations. Of those suggested, the Parish Council has chased down all possibilities and unfortunately none remain as viable propositions.

A copy of the adopted parish plan can be found here (Relevant pages are 16, 20 and 27)

As a result of this information, the adoption of the Parish Plan and the registration of the heath during the summer of 2011, a report was prepared for the Parish Council detailing proposed next steps. This report suggested that further consultation should take place to establish the most appropriate potential location on the heath and seek views from those directly affected.

Having established the principal in the first consultation, this second round of consultation, in winter 2011 dealt with more practical matters such as location together with informal engagement on the proposals with the statutory consultees as recommended in the legislation. Each consultee was sent a consultation letter, plan showing possible locations and mood board with indicative design suggestions.

Responses to this consultation were presented to the Parish Council in an update at the beginning of 2012. As a result of the agenda item that considered this update, the Parish Council voted to choose the northern most site, between the Cricket Pitch and Heath Road as their preferred site.

The third stage of consultation took place via the website and annual village festival and discussed issues of materials and equipment type to inform the design process. Two designs were exhibited, of which one has now been chosen as a preference to accompany the application.

As a result of this consultation, a further paper was prepared for the parish council showing the results. The combination of all this information was considered at the Parish Council’s November 2012 meeting and a majority vote agreed to proceeding with a formal s38 application to the Planning Inspectorate to locate play equipment on Fordham Heath.

Next Steps

The formal s38 application was submitted in April of 2013 and the accompanying notice can be viewed here. This notice has been posted on site, sent to all statutory consultees and advertised in the local press.

Once the formal notice period has concluded, the Planning Inspectorate will consider the application and all representations before making a decision on how to proceed with the decision making process. Three options are available to them;

  1. Determine the application on the information already received (the written representations process).
  2. Call for a informal hearing to gather further evidence from all parties before determining the application
  3. Hold a formal public inquiry, where all parties have the right to be legally represented and witnesses called to give evidence.

Once one of these three routes have been selected and followed, the appointed Planning Inspector will issue a report and decision on the application.

16/07/2013: An update to this is posted here.

25/02/2014: A further update about the approval from the government inspector is posted here.

15/10/2014: A further update about the changed location and associated planning application is posted here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where will the play area be located?
A: On the Heath, between the current cricket pitch and Heath Road. See map here.

Q: What will the proposed play area look like?
A: You can download the design concept that was submitted in the S.38 application here. Please note this is quite a large 9MB file. Whilst created by a supplier, this design concept does not signify a particular supplier preference at this stage.

Q: How can I give feedback on the proposals?
A: Any representations should be sent in writing ON or BEFORE Friday 17th May 2013 to the Planning Inspectorate at Room 3/25B, Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN or emailed to: commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk Letters sent to the Planning Inspectorate cannot be treated as confidential. They will be copied to the applicant and possibly to other interested parties.

Andrew Cook
andrew.cook@eightashgreen.com