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Neighbours' behaviour concerns over £250,000 revamp of Ashley recreation ground

FEARS of increased anti-social behaviour were raised as residents heard fresh details about major plans to enhance Ashley recreation ground.

New Milton Town Council’s £250,000 scheme – fully funded by developers’ contributions – involves constructing a new, larger play park in place of the existing one.

A new building will be erected for Ashley Youth Club and storage for the rugby club based at the site off Normans Way.

Mike and Lynne Hawkes, who live in neighbouring Melrose Court, were among those who attended a recent online extraordinary amenities committee meeting.

An artist's impression of how the new, larger, play park could look (46687557)
An artist's impression of how the new, larger, play park could look (46687557)

Although largely welcoming the proposed development, they shared concerns it could worsen problems with disruptive youths gathering during the night.

The couple have often had to call the police, and Mrs Hawkes told councillors her car’s window was smashed by a glass bottle.

“We have no problem with kids playing in the play park during the day – we actually enjoy that noise,” she said.

“But it’s night time when the teens come out that is the problem, and we have noise up to 3am.”

Town council estates and facilities manager Mark Jeffries said a CCTV camera could be mounted on one of the rugby pitch’s floodlight polls.

CCTV is being installed on the pavilion after disturbances which included youths scaling its roof and damaging goalposts.

There will also be security lighting, but New Forest District Council landscape architect Jill Colclough assured measures would be taken to prevent light pollution.

Although sympathising with the Hawkes’ predicament, Cllr David Hawkins was surprised the town council had not been informed before.

“Please, if you have a problem call the town hall and we can look at how to sort it. You don’t need to suffer,” he told them.

Amenities chair Cllr Geoffrey Blunden pledged the matter would be monitored, suggesting action could be taken to tackle it as an environmental issue.

Ms Colclough told the meeting the aim was to make the play park appeal to a wider age range, with a mix of apparatus for youngsters from zero to 18 years.

The council hopes it will be built in the autumn, and public consultation will include drop-in sessions on the recreation ground in May.

The new youth and storage building could take at least six to nine months to start construction, the meeting heard, as it needed to go through planning.

But town council youth services manager Silma Ramsaywack stressed: “This youth facility at Ashley is as well as the youth facility we are still trying to find an appropriate location and building for in the town centre.”

Rugby club treasurer Duncan Conacher was concerned the building could block views of the pitch from the pavilion’s balcony.

But Ms Colclough assured him this would not be the case as the proposed ridge height was just over four metres.

One of the potential users of the new facilities, Brandon Lynch, welcomed the plans, saying they seemed to offer “something for all ages”.

People can complete an online questionnaire at bit.ly/3e4bzDL by Wednesday 12th May.

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