Play area: should it stay or should it go?
A PLAY area described as a "magnet" for antisocial behaviour divided local residents at a meeting this week.
Plans – submitted by Cornwall Council and Westco Properties – to remove a play area in the middle of St Austell's Urban Village development, were thrown out by the authority's central sub-area planning committee.
Some residents said they thought it would be a toddlers' play area when they purchased their houses, but it is in fact suitable for children aged 4 to 8.
"Whilst we are never going to eradicate any antisocial behaviour, it's unfortunate and it does seem to gravitate towards this area," said resident Mike Myers, speaking in favour of removing the area.
He added: "The play equipment acts as a magnet for it."
He said over the past few years residents, fearing for their own and other residents' safety, have called the police because of the behaviour.
But Ellie Glason, who has two children aged 3 and 5, represented other residents who want the play area to stay put.
"The playground contributes to the wellbeing of the village," she told councillors. "I think it's a lovely place to live."
Committee member Rob Nolan agreed.
"We remove the swings and they are still going to hang around and eat crisps and just be there," he said. "We have to let kids play and to gather and socialise."
Fellow member Steve Double, Poltair Cornwall councillor, echoed his thoughts, saying: "I think young people these days have a hard enough time without us taking away the play equipment they do have."
Ward member Shirley Polmounter, for Mount Charles, said that because the play area is for older children it should be 20m from the nearest property, but this one is about four metres.
She said in the Urban Village there was "nothing for young children" but "it's got clumsy great equipment that's not particularly challenging" for older children.
After the meeting, Ms Polmounter said: "All the residents I've spoken with are quite happy to have a toddler play area."
But the application to remove the equipment was refused, in fear that nothing would replace the play area.
Councillors agreed that antisocial behaviour was an issue for the police and parents, not the planning committee.