Published: June 21, 2012
Green fears halt £120,000 plans for new sports facilities at Apex Park

Plans to build a new £120,000 outdoor sports area in Highbridge's Apex Park have been dealt a setback this week after the district council said the proposals could harm the park's green environmental status. first reported here in May that Burnham and Highbridge Town Council is applying for £100,000 of funding to build a new MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) in Apex Park that would be used for football, netball, basketball and tennis.

But at a Town Council meeting last night (Wednesday, June 20th) the plans were thrown into doubt following objections from Apex Park Improvements Group and Sedgemoor District Council.

In an open letter to the Town Council which was discussed at the meeting, Sedgemoor's Parks and Open Spaces Officer, Harley Cook, said: "Apex Park is recognised as a leisure and wildlife park with County Wildlife status. The provision of a hard surface MUGA could be seen as detrimental to this status."

"The only suitable location for a MUGA would be on the land occupied as a grass football pitch adjacent to the play area and skate park. This grass surface facility is in keeping with the environment at the park, appreciated by the public and well used."

The district council is planning a new 'outdoor gym' at the park, but Mr Cook added: "Are we in danger of providing too many facilities at the park and destroying the green space character which is well loved by those who visit?"

Apex Park Improvements Group has also objected to the proposals, stating that the area has recently been expanded with a new play park as well as being actively used by children playing football.

Cllr Neville Jones, who put forward the proposals, told after Wednesday's meeting: "I am disappointed that Apex Park is not seen as the right location but hope that we can find an alternative. A MUGA would provide superb sports facilities for young people in Burnham and Highbridge. It would be a similar games area to the one already in place next to Berrow Village Hall that is well used."

Cllr Allan Miller added: "I am disappointed there is no room at Apex for these facilities. We should investigate other areas nearby, including land besides the BMX Park and the BAY Centre."

Cllr Kate Lawson added: "The proposed facilities would ideally be located at Apex, but I think Southwell Gardens could be another location if the land owners were in agreement. It would be nearer some of the new housing developments."

Town councillors are to hold a site visit to consider alternative locations for the facilities.

Earlier this year, the Town Council set aside £20,000 from its general reserves for the project and it is also bidding for £100,000 from Sedgemoor District Council of so-called 'RLT3 funding', which comes from housing developers' contributions towards the provision of community leisure facilities.


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