Campaign to save Oakridge playing field from 190 new homes

12:40pm Saturday 24th November 2012

By Chris Gregory

CAMPAIGNERS came together to protest against a regeneration scheme that would see residents lose part of a playing field in a Basingstoke suburb.

More than 30 people turned up at the Silvester Close play area, in Oakridge, to register their opposition to a plan by Sentinel Housing Association to build on land used by dog-walkers and by children playing football.

As reported in The Gazette, Basingstoke-based Sentinel will demolish 90 maisonettes and flats in Freemantle, Taverner and Westray Close, in Oakridge, and replace them with 190 new homes.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has given away five hectares of land to support the scheme.

But some residents fear building on the land will lead to more anti-social behaviour.

Helen Miller, 30, of Silvester Close, said her four children either use, or will use, the green space to play on.

She told The Gazette: “By not providing somewhere for children to play, it is going to encourage anti-social behaviour. Our garden is not big enough for our children to play football, so where are they going to go?”

Laura Kimber, also of Silvester Close, organised the protest, and she has encouraged people to send their objections to the borough council.

The 52-year-old said: “I feel strongly about it and so do quite a few other people. We use the area every morning to walk our two dogs. I look out of my window, and after school, there will be 20 kids there. The older residents use it as a meeting place.

“I don’t think one person here wants to stop the development, but we don’t want to lose the play area.”

Mike Shepherd, development and regeneration director at Sentinel, said residents had the chance to contribute to the plans during four community consultations held between September 2011 and July 2012.

He added: “Our proposed design, which took into account feedback received from local residents and input from the residents’ design team, retains a large central area of mixed play space which now benefits from being overlooked by new housing.”

Should planning permission be granted, work is expected to start by next May and it would finish by March 2015, providing more affordable housing.

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