Backlash over council plans to revamp Cromer’s ‘tired’ North Lodge Park

A master plan to overhaul a much-loved but 'tired' Cromer park has met with a public backlash and the idea of building an outdoor gym there has been slammed as a 'waste of money'.

Environmental chiefs from North Norfolk District Council have laid out their vision for North Lodge Park - which includes the 14-piece all-age gym - but the �197,000 scheme has angered people who feel the council has failed to listen to what residents want.

The plan also aims to scrap the putting green, turn the bowls green into a formal garden to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and install children's play equipment alongside the gym. New public toilets would be built and the building housing the existing loos given to the Seaview pre-school.

However the plan rules out constructing a skate park, which has riled campaigners who have been pushing for years to get one established, and they are now planning to speak out against the proposals when they are discussed next week.

The skate park campaign has been stepped up in the last month by a dedicated core of youngsters who have unofficially adopted the former Kiddies' Corner at North Lodge Park with their home-made ramps.

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Andrew Harrison-Robertshaw, who has been a voice for the skaters, said: 'The district council has not actually asked the people of Cromer what they want. And now what they're planning, nobody wants. It's just a waste of money.'

He said campaigners had gone onto the streets of Cromer on Saturday to straw poll residents about what they would like to see built at North Lodge Park, and the majority had been in favour of a skate park rather than an outdoor gym.

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Online readers of the News also blasted the plan and a vote showed 71pc of readers thought the proposed changes would not benefit residents or tourists.

Mr Harrison-Robertshaw added: 'All the materials for the ramps (at Kiddies' Corner) were donated by local businesses and we're having a fun day on Sunday and all the prizes have been donated by local businesses.

'So we have got all the local support but the council aren't taking a skate park seriously.'

But John Lee, cabinet member for environment, stressed skateboarders were not being forgotten as other sites were being considered, and said a meeting between youngsters and the council was due to take place next week.

He added: 'They will get a skate park in Cromer, we'll make it happen. It's possible we could use another part of North Lodge Park, but that's one of several options.'

The plan has been drawn up as the council believes North Lodge Park is starting to look 'tired' and said numerous complaints have been made about it.

Mr Lee said the gym and play area aimed to give families an area to enjoy together in a safe environment, and overall it was hoped the proposed changes would draw people to the east side of town, which would benefit businesses.

He added: 'The park needs to be more attractive and then it becomes not just beneficial to local people but also with our visitors.'

He was keen to get the scheme rolling, with the gym and play area hoped to be open in time for the Olympic flame's passage through the town in July, and members are now being recommended to approve it at Monday's cabinet meeting.

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