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Rooksdown pavilions are magnet for vandals
PAVILIONS which were saved for community use have instead been vandalised and become a place for youths to congregate and cause trouble.
The wooden structures at Rooksdown were original features of the former hospital, used by patients to sit outside.
Developer of the site, Taylor Wimpey, decided to keep them when building the new houses, with the hope residents would benefit from them.
But those living near the four pavilions have now complained that they are instead being used by youngsters who gather there in large groups.
Anthony Brown, 30, who lives near one of the pavilions, said there is a constant stream of young people congregating there, drinking and smoking.
He added: “They make my girlfriend feel very uncomfortable in our own house.”
A consultation was held with residents in January asking what should be done with the pavilions, and the overwhelming response was that they should be pulled down.
But Karen Cherrett, borough councillor for Rooksdown, said it is not that simple. She explained: “It’s fair to say that since the houses have been built around them, residents have found it difficult to understand their purpose and they have been blighted by a series of vandalism. But we do have a couple of residents who want to keep them because they are part of our heritage.”
Residents were further angered when a suggestion was made that they could pay for their upkeep through a ‘community agreement trust’ in which residents pay around £20 to £50 a year to help maintain the structures.
Mr Brown said: “They want residents to pay to entertain kids who cause nothing but social unrest.”
Discussions have taken place with Taylor Wimpey about what to do with the pavilions, and the developer is now working on a planning application to have them removed.
But it could still be some time before the pavilions are taken down because further consultation is needed before the application is approved.
And the matter of who will pay for the removal still needs to be sorted.
Ron Darley, Rooksdown parish council clerk, said there are plans to relocate one of the pavilions to an open field where it would not cause a nuisance to residents, and another has been offered to Milestones Museum.
He added: “The problems have been ongoing. Some residents have taken out the seats to stop kids using them.”
A statement from Taylor Wimpey said: “We are preparing for an application to remove the pavilions due to repeated acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour being committed there. Our action is in response to public meetings and discussions.”