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Sports hall among aspirations for new Milford recreation space at The Swifts

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A NEW park in Milford looks set to be developed with a football pitch, gym equipment, running track and sports pavilion, under recently revealed plans.

The site next to the primary school on Lymington Road is due to be handed over to Milford Parish Council following the completion of the 42-unit estate next door.

The open space was earmarked for public amenity use when a government planning inspector agreed agricultural fields could be declassified as greenbelt to enable the development.

The estate was developed by Pennyfarthing Homes
The estate was developed by Pennyfarthing Homes

Earlier this year more than 200 people responded to a public consultation asking how they would like to see the 2.2 hectares developed. Top of the list of local priorities with 67 votes was creating a wildlife area or garden, alongside woodland or an orchard.

However, parish clerk Graham Wells said New Forest District Council had given clear advice that the area should be developed for sport and recreation.

He added: “A wildlife area on part of the site could be developed in time, but the suggestion by some to cover the whole field in trees would not be considered an acceptable use of the land.”

Other suggestions including a skate park (44 votes) or a BMX track (31). But parish council chair Cllr Matt Goode revealed: “We talked about this with [NFDC head of planning] Claire Upton-Brown and she highlighted two key things that would make a skate park incompatible with the criteria of public open space.

“The first is the environmental impact of the use of concrete and the second is that the land has to be developed or utilised in a way that broadly encourages the majority of people to be able to use it.

The park at The Swifts
The park at The Swifts

“By the very nature of a skateboard park it would appeal to some people and not others. That was a point that we challenged a couple of times.”

However, Cllr Goode reported the council should be in a position to develop at least seven of the most requested facilities.

These included adult gym equipment, a grass running track, a full-size football pitch and a sport pavilion that could potentially accommodate a regular youth club and function space.

He continued: “Based on the survey we managed to get through at least seven of the top 15 ideas, so I think we have taken on the residents’ feedback in the context of what that land can be used for.

“The plan is to get this into a document and then share that with Claire Upton-Brown so she can talk us through the phasing of it as well as the slightly thorny issue of a sports hall, which we think is a fabulous idea.”

Suggestions discounted by the council included a sculpture garden, cemetery, crazy golf course, maze and donkey sanctuary.

Part of the site has already been developed with allotments, a pick-up zone for the school visitors and two children’s play areas. As part of the deal for taking ownership of the land, the parish council will receive a one-off payment of £182,000 to maintain and develop the site.

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