New HopeZone plan sparks anti-social behaviour fearBy Becky Barnes
August 13, 2012
Re-submitted plans for a youth drop-in centre have sparked fresh fears of anti-social behaviour at a recreation ground.
Forty-seven letters of objection have been submitted after revised proposals for the HopeZone drop-in at Morgan Recreation Ground in Crowthorne, were lodged with Bracknell Forest Council.
One resident, who has lived in the village for 35 years, said: “I have a basic human right to live in my home without living in fear.”
Another said over ‘many years’ they had been subject to ‘immense upset’ from anti-social behaviour from the recreation ground.
Plans for a wooden hut, submitted by Crowthorne Baptist Church, in the High Street, have been a work in progress for more than two years.
Original plans were withdrawn in May 2011 but re-submitted at the beginning of last month.
They were immediately met with resistance with letters criticising the church, voicing concerns about the reduction of green space and the risk of drugs, alcohol, litter and vandalism.
People had until last Tuesday to make their opinions known.
Police have also raised issues about the design of the building saying it would not ‘deter’ crime and have ‘noted’ the Morgan Centre next door has grills and covers to deter criminal activity.
A police statement submitted to Bracknell Forest Council said: “There has been a history of anti-social behaviour on the Morgan Recreation Ground over the years, although more recently this has reduced.
“The proposed structure could easily be set fire to, have windows smashed, be damaged and the potential of youths climbing on to the roof.”
The council also received 14 comments in favour of the HopeZone.
One person said: “Crowthorne has a deserved reputation for being an active, caring community and I am glad there is an opportunity to show this attitude extends to teenagers.”
Other comments included that there were a ‘serious lack’ of facilities for younger people in Crowthorne.
Reverend Martin Ceaser, chair of the HopeZone Committee, said: “We have been a little surprised at the nature and tone of some of the objections.
“However HopeZone will abide by whatever decision is returned by Bracknell Forest Council.”
Crowthorne Parish Council was asked to comment on the application and following the feedback decided to debate at its September meeting whether the HopeZone should be trialled at the Morgan Centre initially before an independent facility was built.
Councillor Bob Wade, chairman of Crowthorne Parish Council, said it had become clear that there was ‘sufficient concern’ that the proposal had the ‘potential risk of undermining all the good work that has been achieved in mitigating anti-social behaviour’.
The plans will be voted on at Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee’s next meeting on Thursday, August 23.