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Workington residents vow to keep garden battle growing

A group of residents on Workington’s Westfield estate have vowed to continue a fight against a proposed community garden, despite the project getting the go-ahead from planners.

COMMUNITY GARDEN FIGHT: Residents of Workington’s Westfield estate, from left, Alan Woodend, Bob Skimming, Wendy O’Neil and Jennifer Williams

Derwent & Solway Housing Association said the garden, planned on a triangular plot of land accessed from Garth Road, would address health inequality and promote financial inclusion by encouraging people to grow food.

Similar projects at Hillary Close in Salterbeck and Wastwater Avenue in Moorclose were given the go-ahead by Allerdale council planning officers last year.

But the Westfield plan was put before councillors because people whose homes back onto the site feared it would lead to anti-social behaviour and loss of privacy.

Twenty-one residents of Garth Road, Ghyll Road and Westfield Drive signed a petition and seven letters of objection were submitted.

But, after a site visit on Wednesday, the council’s development panel granted planning permission.

The council said suitable screening must be put up to help shield homes.

But residents now plan to meet Derwent & Solway and Westfield Housing Association, which owns the land, to urge them not to go ahead.

Wendy O’Neil, whose Garth Road house is next to the site entrance track, said: “I’m absolutely gutted. Why should my quality of life be diminished?

“I’m going to have to think about getting dressed before I even open my curtains.

“All of a sudden there’s going to be an area where youngsters can mess about.

“Nobody from outside can see what’s going on there. Who’s going to police it?

“Nobody goes in there at the moment. It’s a wasteland.”

Alan Williams, 64, of Garth Road, said: “We don’t want to be inundated with people. Will it be a magnet for kids when there’s nobody about? Are they going to start wrecking the place?”

Brian Stalker, 65, of Ghyll Road, fears the garden will create extra traffic.

He said: “There were more objectors than supporters. To approve it would appear at odds with local opinion.”

Councillors said they recognised the concerns but felt the project would be good for the community.

Ten members voted in favour of the plans, with three against.

Ben Brinicombe, of Derwent & Solway, said the association wanted to meet residents.

He added: “We are not going to be bringing large numbers of people in. We are going to work with neighbouring people to make sure there is adequate screening and there is no issue over safety. We know we have a lot more work to do.”

Derwent & Solway took over the community gardens project from the South Workington Partnership when that disbanded. It came about after some residents said they would like community gardens.

The project won more than £270,000 from the Big Lottery and Derwent & Solway is working with Westfield Housing Association and Impact Housing.

Have your say

What a load of rubbish excuses for objections. Anti-social behavior goes on all over the place as it is. May find that some youngsters would get involved in the plots with their parents. If the people around cannot see what is going on in this area then how would they know there are no people in this area now. All the litter that will have accumulated there over the years will be got rid of and the area will be tidied up. All the "extra traffic" I wonder how the owner of such a statement comes to that conclusion. How many plots could fit in this small area, not all plot holders would be coming and going on the same days and times and not all by car. "Who is going to police it" well who does so now?
Oh dear having to get dressed before opening the curtains heard it all now. Moaning for the sake of it.

Posted by edd on 16 February 2013 at 12:42

To the NIMBY's - now that you have identified it as wasteland, my suggestion would be that it is utilised to pack in as many affordable or social houses as possible. Hopefully this would be right up to your boundary.

Community garden - what a great idea. Hope it is a great success.

Posted by Pete on 15 February 2013 at 21:25

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