Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Decision Day 22nd December 2011

Ever since the proposals for further development of Hartsdown Park were first published, there has and still remains enormous objection from the local residents as well as those from other towns that make up the Isle of Thanet.
The gifting of this land back in 1927 by the late Maude Hatfeild to the Margate Corporation was done so on the basis that the land was to be held for the future pleasure and enjoyment of the residents of Margate, expressly denying any form of construction or development, it is this single act of generosity to the people of Margate that we ask that the council uphold in the manner it was given.

On Thursday 22nd December 2011 a meeting has been arranged by the council to discuss the development plans and hear the voices both in support and in objection. We would like to invite our members to this meeting in the hope that our concerns regarding these plans are not only heard but fully taken into account before a final decision is made.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Margate Football Club main entrance, it is envisaged that this may also involve a move to the site where the proposed 3g pitch is planned to be constructed in the park.
At this point it is important to make clear that we are not in any way trying to work against the progress of MFC in their attempts to bring in greatly needed revenue to help their business survive, we simply wish to ensure that any progress is not made at the total loss of such a valuable asset to the local community. Further it is worth noting the following points which have been raised :

  1. Thanet already has but half of the recommended allocated space per 1000 of population as defined by not only this government but also the outgoing Labour government led by Gordon Brown.
  2. Recent meetings held by the stakeholders of Hartsdown Park, concluded that not one could agree to the proposed development plans as they were seen to be having such a devastating effect on the character and structure of our parkland.
  3. A recent poll of the general public using the park resulted in an overwhelming condemnation of the plans to develop, concerns were raised as to the effect this development would have on the passage to and from the park by the children of Hartsdown school, they use this park every day as a safe means of crossing from Hartsdown Road to Tivoli park avenue, the consequence of this not being available would see many children having to navigate along streets with fast moving traffic, the possibility for serious injury being heightened as a result.
  4. A review of the local plan shows that it is the priority of the council to replace any open space which is lost, this being substituted with another area that the public can use. Since the formation of the 5 a side pitches in Hartsdown, there has not been, nor any indication as to where this piece of replacement space will be sourced from. We can therefore only assume that any open space lost to this development will not therefore be replaced as promised by council. This matter more than any should and possibly could provoke a formal complaint being levied to government as this also clearly goes against the current policy on open spaces and the protection of our natural environment.
  5. Although in its early stages, The Friends of Hartsdown & Tivoli Park would like to bring together all interested parties, businesses and local residents in a bid to promote a working fund from which more family orientated equipment could be purchased for installation in the park. We believe this parkland is for all of Margate’s families to enjoy clean, safe open space and not just a very small minority who, given the current financial and social problems seen in Thanet, would not be in a position to utilise the facilities, thus rendering this resource, like the 5 aside pitches as wholly unused and irrelevant.
  6. Currently the 5 a side pitches are available to the public at a rate of £40.00 per hour, this sees 99% of the same sat empty day after day with only one or two pitches at best being utilised for two hourly sessions one evening a week. On this basis, with a charge rate estimated at £145.00 per hour, there seems absolutely no market/demand for such a resource. Verbal confirmation from local football teams has confirmed that they will not use either the 5 a side or a new full size 3g due to the costs involved, in fact even if free of charge they would still prefer to use the real grass pitch. This destroys any justification for development entirely. No demand = No turnover = No benefit to community = loss of open space for no genuine reason.

The above points are merely a scratch on the surface of objections that have been raised both verbally to council officers and also through the public consultation phase. We urge everyone with an interest in our natural environment to attend on the 22nd and voice your concerns. To the councillors and members of council who have an interest in this matter, we implore you to help us protect Hartsdown Park and its amazing open space, not only for us but also our children’s enjoyment for years to come.

This parkland deserves our support in protecting it, there are so many different family orientated ways we can improve this parkland, please help us to make a start for all our benefit, please lend us your support and help to SAVE HARTSDOWN PARK.

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