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Milford Parish Council concern over 'dreadful' state of public open space ahead of handover

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PARISH councillors have raised concerns about a new area of public open space which they say is littered with rocks, metal and broken glass, ahead of its handover by a local developer.

They want major improvements to the green area that has been created behind Milford Primary School as part of a new housing estate in the village.

The parish council will eventually take ownership of the land from Pennyfarthing Homes along with a one-off payment of £182,000 towards further maintenance.

Public open space at the Swifts development in Milford by Pennyfarthing Homes (49798592)
Public open space at the Swifts development in Milford by Pennyfarthing Homes (49798592)

However, major concerns have been raised about the state of the 2.2-hectare site, which could eventually be marked out to form playing fields or a running track.

At a recent parish council meeting, Cllr Matt Goode said he was extremely worried about the amounts of debris and broken-up building materials scattered across the entire site.

He declared: “From a maintenance prospective you could not run a lawnmower over it and from a health and safety prospective there is glass and tin in the ground.

"New Forest District council have told us they are having major discussions with Pennyfarthing to rectify the situation.”

Cllr Goode continued: “I don’t know if any of you have walked the site – you really don’t have to try hard to see the shocking state of it. It is absolutely dreadful.”

The meeting heard that council groundsman Josh Mantock and Andrew Smith from Milford Football Club had advised the situation could be remedied by mechanically scrapping the surface or burying the debris under another layer of soil.

Cllr Goode warned: “I don’t really want us to sweat about what the remedial action should be undertaken whilst NFDC are applying pressure to Pennyfarthing.

“At the end of the day, Pennyfarthing are the landowners and it is their responsibility. NFDC do not have to release them from their obligations and we don’t have to take that land until its fit for purpose."

Pennyfarthing Homes recently wrote to residents of The Swifts development apologising for the delay in opening the public open space, playground and allotments.

Sales and marketing director Sheetal Smith sought to reassure residents of the company’s commitment to completing the work.

She said: “The public open space, which was seeded earlier this year, is undergoing maintenance before it will be adopted by the Milford Parish Council."

She said its maintenance team was carrying out additional works alongside a maintenance review which was due to conclude last week.

“The works include additional bollards to the cycleway, a security barrier to the drop off car park and fencing to be erected surrounding the Swale drainage system, located to the top of the development," she added.

"Until the public open space can be opened, ‘keep off the grass’ signs will be in place.”

This article was amended on 2nd August 2021 to clarify concerns by the parish council and to update the image.

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