Residents left frustrated over year-long legal process of opening children's play area in Northants town
"The physical and mental health of children in the area is paramount with the school holidays starting this week"
Residents in a town near Northampton have been left 'frustrated' at the legal process involved in opening a children's playground on a new housing estate.
Homeowners in Towcester Grange, which was built in 2020 by Persimmon Homes, have been waiting over 18 months for the developers and West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) to reach an agreement to open the on-site play area.
One resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "Both WNC and Persimmon have been saying the park opening is ‘imminent’, and I have been chasing the opening since I moved to the new estate in July 2020.
"The park was part of the conditions from the council to provide a public open space for local residents. It has been fenced off since it was completed early last year with no opening date in sight. Residents are becoming increasingly frustrated, with many breaking in to use the park anyway.
"I feel a story from the local paper may provide bad press for Persimmon and encourage them to get the park opened ASAP.
"The physical and mental health of children in the area is paramount with the school holidays starting this week, and the nearest park being over a mile walk away along busy roads."
This newspaper contacted both WNC and Persimmon Homes asking why the park had not yet opened.
Cllr Phil Larratt, from WNC, said: “The play area is provided by Persimmon Homes under a Section 106 (planning) agreement.
"It is planned to place it in the hands of Towcester Town Council. However, the planning agreement does not allow for that. Therefore we are working with the Town Council so that West Northamptonshire Council takes it on and then it is transferred to the Town Council.
"There will be some formal steps, including public notices, required before we can do this. However, the intention is that the play area will be opened to the public as soon as it is in our hands.”
A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Midlands echoed the council's response, saying that there is a legal process to follow.
The spokesperson said: “Although the play area was completed a while ago, it cannot be opened until the formal lease has been approved by WNC. This is a legal process that must be followed as part of the planning consent for the development.
“We understand and share the residents’ frustration and wish to assure them we are doing all we can to support WNC to ensure the play area is opened as soon as possible.”