I have been contacted by Sheltorpe residents who were concerned about this fence. It blocks off the end of a footpath between Manor Drive on the Shelthorpe Estate, and an open space with a very nice looking playground for younger children. That open space sits on the Chimes Estate which is still partly being built. The park is finished. Children play on it. The grass around it is in good shape.
People got in touch with me because they wanted to know why children on the Shelthorpe Estate were having to take a ten-minute or more detour to get to a bit of open space with a lovely community asset on it. The trip would otherwise be around 30 seconds.
Many people have memories of going down the self-same path to play on the open space that used to occupy the land where the new estate is being built.
I have been to the site twice now to see and hear what is going on. Today I went to speak to local residents. One, who lived within metres of the fence reported that it has been up since the building started, he was none the wiser as to why it was still up.
I also visited the office of the David Wilson Homes who are developing the site. They were very courteous to me. It’s fair to say the gentleman I spoke to did not have the answer but said he would get the relevant person to contact me.
I await eagerly, but won’t wait around if the response is slow.
One aspect of this is the way that these new estates across Loughborough are being constructed and sold. The parks and open spaces, and some other community amenities will not be administered by the Borough Council in the normal way, but will be maintained by a management company who takes a service-charge from those living on the estate. It’s a daft idea, basically privatising open-spaces, and introducing an additional private council tax.
This arrangement may mean that some of the paths around the park (on this plan below) will be maintainable by the management company. But in my view if the public has exercised a right of way over the path to what used to be recreation land (and still is), they should still be granted that right of way.
We will see what the construction firm come back with.
You would hope, however, that they would see sense: there is a community asset in the park, there is a path to it, and on any common sense view all members of the community ought to be able to use the park and access it by way of the path.
To be continued…