Funding row over children's play area

PUBLISHED: 10:38 15 February 2007 | UPDATED: 21:34 29 May 2010

CHILDREN are being caught up in a bitter wrangle between developers and a council over who should maintain a play area. But while the dispute continues parents are unable to let their children use the equipment on the Oakwood Park estate according to moth

CHILDREN are being caught up in a bitter wrangle between developers and a council over who should maintain a play area.

But while the dispute continues parents are unable to let their children use the equipment on the Oakwood Park estate according to mother-of-two, Sally Brown.

She said: "We were promised that an equipped play area for the young children would be open when 501 properties had been occupied on the estate.

"There are 536 occupied now and still our children have nowhere safe to play.

"The play area is being built but we've been told it can't be opened until issues about its long-term maintenance are resolved. Everyone is very angry at the lack of these facilities."

Play equipment is already on the site including a twin swing, horizontal bars, scales and two wobble dishes. A safety rubber surface is due to be installed by the end of February.

Mrs Brown says the delay in allowing children to use the equipment comes from a disagreement between the developer and Uttlesford District Council about who would be responsible for the long-term maintenance.

A legal agreement from February 1998 governs the provision of the play area as well as playing fields and a village hall.

The provision of the latter two has been delayed as they are included in the inquiry of building a further 122 homes on the area originally designated to be playing fields that went to public consultation in November 2005. The hearing finished earlier this year.

"We requested a meeting with the head of planning, as we need to know if the play area can be opened without permission from the council, but there doesn't seem to be any urgency in him coming to discuss the matter," said Mrs Brown.

"We are trying to get answers but no one at Uttlesford wants to talk to us. We have worked closely with the developer Enodis on issues we have had and they have been good to us."

Andrew Noble, group property director, Enodis, said: "The council says we don't have planning consent so our legal department has written to their legal office reminding them of the original planning condition that detailed the play area and how it should be dealt with.

"On the original agreement it said we would build the play facilities and pass it over to Uttlesford, but they seem to want us to hand over even more money."

A spokesman for UDC said: "The decision on the play area is dependent upon the outcome of the inquiry.

"We are not in a position to comment until then.

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