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Wymondham’s King’s Head Meadow campaigners celebrate a victory in fight to save playscape

PUBLISHED: 12:52 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 07 June 2017

Parents, children and supporters at King's Head Meadow last year, after a fence was put up.  PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Parents, children and supporters at King's Head Meadow last year, after a fence was put up. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

ARCHANT NORFOLK

Playground campaigners have won a victory in their fight to save a popular, yet disputed play area in their town.

Wymondham Town Council last night (Tuesday, June 6) voted to create a sub-master plan to remodel the play equipment at King’s Head Meadow in its existing location.

The course of action had been suggested by Play England, which the council had invited to assess the site.

Robert Savage, Wymondham’s mayor, said at the end of the almost five-hour-long meeting at Central Hall: “I can confirm that the resolution to remove the play equipment from the site completely from the King’s Head Meadow now falls to the wayside - it has been superseded.”

It follows more than a year of infighting between residents of nearby Orchard Way, who wanted some play pieces, known as the playscape, removed because of concerns over noise and anti-social behaviour.

The King's Head Meadow playscape was discussed for hours at June's Wymondham Town Council meeting. Picture: Stuart Anderson The King's Head Meadow playscape was discussed for hours at June's Wymondham Town Council meeting. Picture: Stuart Anderson

And although the council faced objections from other town residents who wanted the playscape to stay where it was, a majority of councillors voted last year have it removed.

READ MORE: Moving disputed playscape equipment at King’s Head Meadow in Wymondham is “only viable solution” - report

But a week-long protest last August prevented contractors from moving onto the site to take the playscape away, and Norfolk County Council stepped in to mediate.

Councillors including Lee Hornby and Joe Mooney backed moving the equipment to the western fringe of the meadow, near the Back Lane car park, which Play England representatives said may have been the “least-worst” option when it came to dealing with the noise complaints.

The play area at King's Head Meadow at Wymondham, which is close to nearby houses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The play area at King's Head Meadow at Wymondham, which is close to nearby houses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But Play England’s Phil Doyle and Bernard Spiegal said at the meeting simply moving the playscape would not solve the noise issue, and they favoured remodelling the area so it included more natural elements, such as fallen trees or boulders, and called for the removal of a fence around the playground.

Mr Spiegal said: “Our suggestion is that you commission some work that looks at the space as a whole, and you are going to be able to create a much more interesting play environment that’s also a social space across the generations.”

Six councillors voted to move the equipment to the western fringe, and six voted to formulate a new sub-master plan.

Mr Savage then cast the deciding vote for the sub-master plan.

READ MORE: Proposed new site for Wymondham playscape causes controversy at meeting

Sharon Hastings, secretary of the KHM Playscape Group, praised the decision as a “victory for the people of Wymondham”.

She said: “There is now a need to look forward, not back, and find solutions very soon that will dissipate sound around the meadow to allay affected residents’ concerns while giving our children a play experience that includes natural features as well as existing equipment.

“We want to work together as a community and find compromises that work for the children, teenagers and adults who use the park, concerned Orchard Way residents, the football club, the council and the wider community.”

The playscape equipment was installed in 2014 at a cost of £75,000.

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