Local community site for Broadstone, Dorset, since 1999

BBC Interview on Play Area in Lytchett Drive

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BBC Radio Solent interviewed residents from Lytchett Drive in Broadstone and Councillor Karen Rampton about the proposal for building affordable housing in the green area in Lytchett Drive.

The following is a transcript of the interview, by Duncan Gooch (additional transcript completed by David Anderson) :

19th February 2016
Start 07:24
Presenter: Steve Harris (SHa)
Interviewer: Sophia Seth (SSe)
Interviewees: Jo Crocombe (JCr), Steve Churchill (SCh), Councillor Karen Rampton (KRa)

SHa “A group of Poole parents have told Breakfast in Dorset their children will not have a safe place to play if Council builds on their local green space. Poole Borough Council has deemed a stretch of grass on Lytchett Drive in Broadstone as suitable for housing. The Council does not have any official plans in place, but the latest cabinet meeting has ear-marked various areas in Poole, which could support housing. There are currently 956 households on the Housing Register. We will be speaking to Councillor Karen Rampton who’s in charge of housing and community support council in a moment. But first our Bournemouth and Poole reporter, Sophia Seth has been speaking to two parents, who want to protect their green space.”

JCr “Hello, my name’s Jo Crocome, I’ve been a resident here for just over 16 years and we decided to move here because of the open green spaces that we had. If we lose this space the only place that the children can play is in the street, which obviously isn’t safe but could also end up with damaging cars and causing problems within our community. It’s a strong community here and we all know each other and that’s really because the children come out and play and we talk as adults when we come to collect our children. I’d be incredibly upset, because I grew up here and had a lot of open space to play and I think it’s really important we fight for the same opportunities for our children and the future generations.”

SCh “My name is Steve Churchill, I’m a local resident, lived here for nearly 20 years. It’s open land; there’s been celebrations for the Jubilees and things that are held on this land, but it is in constant use by the children most regularly for football activities, kids bring football goalposts out on here, evidence by the worn patches on the grass where you can see that there is constant play here.”

SSe “And is there no other areas where there are children to play around here?”

SCh “Not within what would be deemed as a safe walking distance, so that’s 300 m, 5 minutes walking distance. The nearest park if you walk round the road ways is 1.3 miles, so it’s just too far for young children to let to be to go that distance, whereas the number of houses around here, parents can see their children, they don’t have to be here with them and they know that they are in safe, close proximity.”

SHa “Our reporter Sophia Seth speaking to some parents who are unhappy of the idea that homes could be built on the grass area near their houses. Well joining us on the line now is Councillor Karen Rampton, who’s the cabinet portfolio holder for housing and communities for the Borough of Poole. Karen, thanks very much for coming on the programme this morning”

KRa “Good morning”

SHa “just listening to those parents, they aren’t obviously happy that Lytchett Drive has been deemed suitable for housing, what do you say to them?”

KRa “Well, first of all, we’re at a very early stage, we’re not saying the bulldozers are coming out and we’re going to start building on this site. We have further feasibility studies and defined work to assess the potential of the space and if there are any constraints on the land or any reason why we shouldn’t be using it then it wouldn’t be used, it’s as simple as that. We’ve got nearly a thousand people on our housing register in need at the moment , there are a record number of families in bed and breakfast at the moment. More than half of those people are working people and we have a duty to look for land that we own to try and enable development for affordable housing. It’s one of the council’s top priorities.”

SHa “The green space is equally important, isn’t it? In the Borough of Poole there is quite a bit of green space, but obviously this area is widely loved.”

KRa “It does sound as if it is quite widely loved and I would like to state that Broadstone is actually the joint third highest in terms of open space in Poole, with 101 hectares.”

SHa “You have certainly done your detailed research!”

KRa “I have a bit yes, but this compares with areas such as Newtown in Poole with eight and a half hectares. I’m not saying that that diminishes the value of the land to the people that live around it, but there are compromises. If the land is found to be feasible for more work going forward there is no reason why there couldn’t be a few houses, be it a small group of terraced houses, leaving ample space for play and for dog walking. In fact the area could actually be enhanced. There could be a couple of pieces of natural playing equipment installed in it. It could work in everybody’s favour.”

SHa “Not only are residents against this there is also a local councillor called Mike Brooke who is against it. He has come across a document which is shared with the BBC, which basically says there is a legal obligation in place to remain that area as a green space.”

KRa “We understand there is a covenant. That will be investigated as part of the due diligence, just as any other (?) site will be. So we will know more in the next few weeks and months.”

SHa “if, for example, that covenant, it still stands, for example, will you have to scrap the idea entirely or will you seek to actually overturn it.”
KRa “I think I better leave that to our legal experts rather than make a statement myself on that.”

SHa “And do you think it’s crucial that the housing situation is sorted in Poole. You said there is a record number of people who are in temporary housing at the moment. How much of a challenge is that on your finances?”

KRa “It’s a massive challenge. It’s very expensive to have bed and breakfast accommodation. I was interested that one of your parents who was on the radio, says there is a strong community in Broadstone, and she is absolutely right and lots of areas of Poole have very strong community. You know there is something we can do in terms of local plan where if you are on the list and you are in the appropriate area (?) you could perhaps be prioritised for housing in the area that you are currently living in. So I think there is a strong benefit to Broadstone to enable people who are in inadequate accommodation at the moment to stay in Broadstone in a brand new suitable property. We are talking about –the term affordable housing can be misconstrued – you know, we are talking about shared ownership so we are giving young families a foothold on the housing ladder, which they might not otherwise be able to get.”

SHa “Karen, really appreciate your time this morning. That was Councillor Karen Rampton who is the cabinet portfolio holder for housing and communities. That covenant that’s in place basically states that it shouldn’t be used for building houses. I would read it to you but it is written in rather wordy council-speak which is verging on Latin, I think, but there we go. We will keep you up to date with the story as it progresses, of course.”

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BBC Radio Solent is the BBC Local Radio service for the Isle of Wight and the English counties of Hampshire and Dorset. Its studios are located in Southampton, in the same purpose-built office block in Havelock Road as the BBC South Today news studios, and there are district offices in Portsmouth, Newport, Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester. It was based until 1991 in South Western House, the former railway hotel at the old Southampton Terminus station.

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