Councillors at Three Rivers’ Leisure, Wellbeing and Health Committee voted in favour of submitting a planning application for a play area on Chorleywood Common. (29 June)
Over £100,000 will be available through Three Rivers District Council TRDC
The decision to submit an application has now been made. Common land is subject to a number of planning regulations and the application will now need to be submitted to the national Planning Inspectorate but there will be opportunity to comment on plans.
“We are really pleased that TRDC have listened to views of Chorleywood parents and residents.” says Simone Tyson of Chorleywood Mums, “The Chorleywood Residents’ Association survey showed that the majority of community want to see a play area on the common. Now an independent, impartial opinion can be given by the Planning Inspectorate and we can finally have a positive step forward for the children in Chorleywood.”
County Councillor Chris Hayward, said
“ This has been a long running debate and I firmly believe that our next generation should be able to share in the enjoyment and use of the common and that the Chorleywood House Estate is too far away from the centre of our village to be a suitable location for this facility anyway.”
The issue of a play area on the Common has been rejected by Chorleywood Parish Council (PC) twice in recent years on safety and ecological grounds. The PC own the Common, a recognised conservation area and local nature reserve that is a protected species site, a county heritage and wildlife site within the greenbelt. They consider Chorleywood House Grounds to be the appropriate place for a play area and issued a statement referring to TRDC’s approach as ‘disrespectful and a total disregard for work undertaken by the Parish Council, its advisory committee and experts’ … a move that “flies in the face of the concept of Localism, a policy which both main parties profess to support.”
They stress that a planning application would result in a costly Public Enquiry and point out that Chorleywood Common Youth Football Club was refused an additional pitch in Chorleywood House grounds partly due to potential impact on the grassland – a factor that applies to the proposed Common site (Site 15)
The proposed course of action, they say, is in direct conflict with TRDC’s own Local Development Framework stating that playgrounds on Commons will generally be resisted as they can erode character and public ownership.
TRDC’s main objection to a playground in the House grounds is the distance from Chorleywood centre but the PC argue that it is the most central location and the only disability friendly site.
“Football and tennis, the youth club and the Montessori school are all within the House Grounds” say Chorleywood PC “Access for them is not an issue.”
Simone Tyson adds
“It was stated at the Leisure committee meeting that Chorleywood House Estate did not meet the investment criteria for TRDC and it seemed to end up being was a choice between something on the Common or nothing at all. The best thing about this outcome is that now it will be an impartial decision taken by planning professionals. It also means something that has been going on for over 30 years can finally get a definitive answer rather than coming back again in a few years time. We are also very pleased that TRDC intend to update the existing Swillet play area without losing any of the funding for an additional play which is greatly needed in our community”