May 25 2013 Latest news:
By STEVE DOWNES
Friday, May 11, 2012
Councillors have agreed a nine-point plan that they believe will preserve and enhance a much-loved town park that is at the centre of a controversial proposed revamp.
Members of Cromer Town Council will push for the wish list to be adopted, in the wake of a stormy meeting where members of the public expressed their dismay at the £200,000 park revamp put forward by North Norfolk District Council.
The anger prompted a promise from NNDC deputy leader John Lee that the council would “look again” at the plans.
The wish list includes retaining and properly promoting North Lodge Park’s putting and bowling greens, opening up the rose garden to better public access and abandoning a plan for an all-age outdoor gym at the former Kiddies’ Corner.
At the end of Thursday’s town council meeting, attended by more than 60 members of the public, councillors voted in favour of:
● Looking into making the rose garden a Jubilee garden and opening it up to allow pedestrian access from Overstrand Road
● Supporting the proposed new children’s play area at the former Kiddies’ Corner
● Retaining the putting greens
● Retaining the bowling green, and introducing better advertising and signage to ensure both the putting and bowling are “better used”
● Keeping the public toilets in the park, and enhancing them to provided disabled access and baby-changing facilities
● Retaining and modernising the bandstand and using it for a programme of events for all ages
● Supporting the planned restoration of the two park shelters
● Fencing off the grassed area in front of the rose garden to prevent parking
● Removing the “inappropriate” outdoor gym from the plans, but perhaps locating them elsewhere in Cromer.
During the meeting, there was almost unanimous disapproval of the broad thrust of the proposed overhaul.
Tony Webster labelled the plans “half-witted”, while Penny Gee urged NNDC to “not reinvent the wheel”, adding: “We have a lovely town that people enjoy.”
Town estate agent Tracey Khalil said the east end of Cromer was “suffering terribly”, and said the removal of the putting and bowls greens would “add to that”.
Terry Keeler called the plans an “utter shambles”, and said: “I would hate to see North Lodge Park go along with this ridiculous idea.”
Responding to the criticism, Mr Lee said: “All I can say is that I will take all of the comments into account and go back to my colleagues and suggest that we look at these proposals again.”
The meeting came on the evening of the first of two days of public consultation at North Lodge, with plans for the revamp laid out and people able to view and comment on them.
Plans included three different tenders from firms bidding to design and construct a children’s play area and all-age outdoor gym at the former tennis courts and Kiddies’ Corner.
The proposed equipment included an air skier, double air walker, double cross-country skier, Tai-Chi spinners, hip twister, seated chest press, double rower and a pull-down challenger.
There were also two “concept designs” of how a new toilet block would look if it was moved to the edge of the play area - including a modern circular, cedar-clad design.
But, while there were pictures of various possible plants and flowers, there was nothing to show how the grassed areas and flowerbeds would look once landscaped.
Pat Wright, from Ellen Hill, Cromer, who attended the exhibition with husband Vernon, said: “I honestly don’t think the outdoor gym will be used very much. It will be a white elephant.
“I also don’t see why the current flowerbeds, which look lovely, need to be replaced by these all-year-round gardens, which soon look scruffy and need so much maintenance.”
The plans that sparked the display include the all-age outdoor gym and children’s play area, the creation of a Jubilee garden to replace the bowls green, repairs to Edwardian shelters and removal of the putting and bowling greens.
The current public toilets would be closed and given to the neighbouring play group, with new ones being built near the play area.
NNDC officers were at the exhibition to discuss the plans, while members of the public were able to leave comments.