Councillors approve controversial plan to remodel play area

Central Hall was full as a compromise was at last reached over the playscape at King's Head Meadow i

Central Hall was full as a compromise was at last reached over the playscape at King's Head Meadow in Wymondham. Picture: Jacob Massey - Credit: Archant

An issue that has been dividing a town for years was seemingly put to bed at a council meeting.

The play area at King's Head Meadow in Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The play area at King's Head Meadow in Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The Tiffey Room in Central Hall, Wymondham was packed with members of the public as all but one councillor voted in favour of re-configuring play equipment at King's Head Meadow.

The remodelling of the play area will see equipment moved away from the residential boundary and a new 2.5m high wooden fence erected 8m in from the current perimeter fence.

The controversy began in 2014 when £75,000 worth of play equipment, known as the playscape, was installed on the site. Soon after its completion, neighbouring residents on Orchard Way complained of noise and anti-social behaviour.

After a series of discussions, councillors voted in favour of removing the playscape. However, this plan was scuppered after a week-long protest in August 2016 prevented contractors from carrying out the work and consultations were resumed.

A sketch of the proposed reconfiguration of play equipment in King's Head Meadow Wymondham. Picture:

A sketch of the proposed reconfiguration of play equipment in King's Head Meadow Wymondham. Picture: Wymondham Town Council - Credit: Archant

In a further meeting, six councillors voted to move the equipment and six voted to formulate a sub-master plan, which would involve remodelling the equipment. Mayor of Wymondham, Robert Savage, cast the deciding vote to form the sub-master plan.

Frustration with the protracted nature of the dispute was echoed by numerous councillors at Tuesday's meeting.

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Councillor Suzanne Nuri said: 'This issue has divided Wymondham for a long time and in future we should work towards compromise.'

However, fellow councillor Peter Broome, who abstained from the vote, had a differing view.

The Kings Head Meadow Playscape Group at their Easter picnic in the park. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The Kings Head Meadow Playscape Group at their Easter picnic in the park. Picture: Rebecca Murphy - Credit: Archant

He said: 'I think it is just a shame that it is the residents who have to make the compromise.'

Having approved the proposed re-configuration, councillors and members of the public raised concerns about the aesthetics and cost of the new fence, as well as the potential for anti-social behaviour in the void that would be created between the new fence and the original fence.

On closing the matter, Mr Savage said these issues could be discussed at a later date now that a forward plan had been agreed.

He said: 'This is the first time we have reached a compromise that everybody is happy with.'

At this point, Mr Savage was interrupted by a heckle which typified the drawn-out dispute, 'I wouldn't say happy,' shouted one member of the public.

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