Hankerton Amenity Area – Comments

I am now closing this comments page.
I think that all the points have been covered by the various contributors and the final contribution below (“Dan Lydiate Comments”) is provided by the sub committee chair and pulls the many points together comprehensively.
I’m also about to go on holiday so my ability to maintain the site will be very limited. Having said that the house will be occupied if anyone wants to drop off voting forms. 
Thank you to everyone that has shared their thoughts on this issue. 

Dan Lydiate Comments (just click the link)

“Unfortunately, people seemed to have missed the point right from the start: this was always just a proposal and a feasibility study undertaken to ascertain the suitability of the site. This proposal has, also most unfortunately, led to unwarranted verbal and written communication aimed at the parish council and individuals. I was very surprised to witness this as I would not have expected such behaviour from anyone living in Hankerton.
I support the Parish Council in their ceaseless effort to mediate and ensure everyone has a say in this matter. Their calmness and reserve has been noted by residents who appreciate all the time and effort they spend on our behalf. Parish Councils are important and the lack of an active one has been demonstrated by what has happened in Crudwell. We would not want to lose our Parish Councillors and I encourage people to attend the meetings to understand better what they do. However, these are meetings of the Parish Council to discuss parish business and are not open public forums. The public attend as observers and are invited to speak at the start of the meeting for noting or comments by the council.
The Amenity Area has always been problematic and numerous groups and individuals over the years have done their best to keep it in good order. Enough has been said about the site and its suitability ; whether it becomes a small playground or family area, the clear up should continue with particular emphasis on the overgrown trees and shrubs which were planted many years ago. I would encourage anyone concerned about this site to join in and do something positive.
The families who have moved into the village have become part of community by taking part in village activities, becoming parish councillors and organising events. Their willingness to embrace village life is to be applauded and recognised. Having a younger element has certainly added positively to the life of Hankerton.
Finally, it is a shame that no other piece of land has been found or offered for a play area where children can play safely and families can meet.”
Susan Mockler, Follyfield

“Before commenting on the Amenity Area, can I thank everyone in the Parish Council (PC) and those co-opted for their hard work and forbearance. I would like to thank them all.
1 The area is NOT prone to flooding and has a 0.1% Flood Risk allocation. {Ref: Flood Risk Indicator, Title number and property description: WT97321 land on the North West side of Old Farm Close, Hankerton, Malmesbury,
2 The hedges on the road can be cut, see 4 below.
3 The land is not hidden away though the hedges could do with trimming and should be one of the first things to be done. As can be seen from the Land Registry documents this is within the remit of the land parcel and can be dealt with easily and become a regular maintenance task. It would also assist Old Farm Close residents who have restricted visibility when leaving the Close
4 The area is not small or a strange shape. In fact, it is a very good shape and size of a Trim Trail type playground with seating for adults. Such trials come pre-risk assessed with maximum fall height etc. 
The current bench provides perspective.

The extract from the land registry should assist further. It shows the area of hedges on the junction with Cloatley Road, which is within the parcel and the balance pool and channel which are not.”

Geoff Preston, Follyfield

1) The land was designated a children’s play area as a condition of planning consent for the building of Old Farm Close: presumably all residents are aware of this.
2) The current project is a feasibility study, brought about by the enthusiasm of families for this piece of council-owned land to be used for its original designation. The project is neither a planning application nor a construction project.
3) The Parish Council has, over many years, looked at various uses for the land, none of which has met with enough support to be viable (the PC is not entitled to sell the land). The land has been tended and maintained by volunteers.
4) The tone of communication directed to the Parish Council from the principal opponents in Old Farm Close of the play area has been at times disrespectful, and generally unpleasant. The Parish Council comprises volunteers giving their time for the benefit of the community. PCs are well used to handling concerns from parishioners but can expect at least the courtesy of a debate conducted calmly and objectively, not vitriolic subjectivity and personal attacks.
5) The recent influx of families into our community has brought much-needed new blood to what was becoming almost a retirement village. These families are the future of our village, and it will be their commitment and enthusiasm that will continue the character of Hankerton that we were involved in from 40 years ago.”
Terry Mockler, Follyfield

“‘It is clear from this, and well-known to the PC, that some residents are vehemently opposed to the play area proposition.

It is accepted that the area isn’t absolutely ideal for a play area but there is nowhere else (we have looked hard) and it was passed over to the PC for the purpose of being a play area. But so much of what Mr Newman complains about is process and future work and doesn’t affect the principle of the question being asked in this public consultation – would you like or not like this area to be used to create a play area?

Some of what Mr Newman says is simply wrong, which is why this response by the PC is necessary. For example, a risk assessment has been carried out, identifying the risks and dangers mentioned by him and mitigations suggested. Clearly the risk mitigation work isn’t going to be carried out until we are certain the play area will be built. But some preparations have started. He quotes a cost of £14,800 but this was a very early estimate and has since been revised a long way downwards. The current envisaged figure is in the order of £8000. He mentions ‘unknown ongoing cost’, whereas the estimated annual additional precept cost for a Band D householder is given in the original consultation letter and in the Issues Register, at £6.46 per year (and this is likely to prove an over-estimate).

Mr Newman says “many in the village disagree”. That is what this consultation is all about (incidentally, the PC always said it would consult residents once sufficient was known about the whole idea) – finding out what residents in Hankerton parish really think. Please vote.”
Michael Bromley Gardner – Clerk

“For children’s safety, a play area needs to be visible, light, have space to run around, be located near to the most populated area of the village and allow access to all. The proposed site is a very small slopping piece of land hidden away behind high trees, scrub and brambles next to a balancing pond. During the winter months the pond spills over into the proposed play area and will reduce the usability of the site further. A play area needs to offer something more challenging and interesting than what is usually available to children when they play in their own gardens or that of their friends – the proposed site lacks the potential to do this. Given its numerous issues and poor location I feel this particular site is unsuitable and inappropriate for a children’s play area.”
Shayne Smith 5 Old Farm Close Hankerton.

“The future of the Hankerton Amenity area.

I must say thank you to those folk representing us while serving on the Hankerton Parish Council who are trying hard to resolve a difficult situation. In particular the rude and unpleasant language used by certain members of the Parish does us all no good.

The Council is trying to be objective and to make best use of the piece of land to the advantage of the Village. It matters not what numbers of children can use it now, it is those who are growing up and will need that facility in the future.

Those who were speaking need to check their facts, there is no evidence that suggests work there would cause flooding and there never has been a danger of it.

The rather restricted road view on exit is largely caused through lack of maintenance, a job in the past carried out by volunteers from the village. If it is so difficult why do not the neighbours cut the bushes back ?

One must ask the question, if the play area is such a threat why did people buy the houses knowing the development possibilities.

Please let us have some positive thinking such as how can we help in this project?”
Bunny Lees-Smith, Follyfield

“This piece of land is totally unsuitable for a playground not only is it very small but it is also an odd shape with a very small entrance making it difficult for disabled or emergency access, the site is close to a pond and road with poor visibility making it dangerous for children, this site also floods. Further the challenges around sustainability, Health and Safety, risk assessment, complying with legal requirements and process and procedures have just not been addressed.
It should also be noted that there is no clear financial plan not only on how to fund the initial outlay it keeps changing currently £14,800 and no contingency around sustainability, but also the Parish Council cannot verify the age group being targeted or the number of children in the village that would benefit, in fact other suggestions on its use have been ignored with the survey only allowing a single choice, the PC cannot also address the issue of who will do weekly checks, clean up etc of the site.
The letter that is posted on the website is also misleading the artist impression gives a completely false view of what is possible (they previously surveyed the wrong piece of land) no way would this amount of equipment be possible on the site and the comment about a few residence in Old Farm Close objecting is not correct many in the village disagree, this statement provides a distraction to the real issue of its suitability, sustainability, child safety, Heath & Safety and lack of procedures to comply to law. It took 18 months to finally convince the PC to survey the village to ensure this is what the village wanted rather than a small group pushing their agenda and binding the village to unknown ongoing cost without any mandate.”
Andrew Newman- 3 Old Farm Close

Comments From Old Farm Close Residents (Click on the link to read)

“I do not think odd little piece of land is suitable for development as a playground as it is uneven, adjacent to a pond and situated next to a busy bend with poor visibility. This bend already causes problem for residents of Old Farm Close turning in and out as traffic often comes from Minety at an inappropriate speed!
Can we not find another piece of land that is bigger, more centrally positioned with foot path access, that is already level and not next to a balancing pond and do the job properly.”
Susan Jones, 1Old Farm Close.

“We would not like the land to be used as a Play Area. The proposed location at the end of Old Farm Close is unsuitable for many reasons. It is out of the centre of the village, there is no footpath and it is very close to a fast road on a dangerous bend. Car parking is problematic and there is a local flooding issue. The finances are not certain. We would support an alternate site, if one could be found.”
Philip and Georgina Carter, Old School House, Church Lane, Hankerton.