LOCAL residents have been spurred into action by fears that a park near their homes could be lost if the land is sold to help pay for Melksham Community Campus.
People living in the Hazelwood Road area near Aloeric School have started a petition against the potential sale of the recreation ground and children’s play area in their neighbourhood.
The open space surrounded by Hazelwood Road, Lime Avenue and Orchard Gardens was mentioned at a recent area board meeting as a land plot that could be sold to help fill the campus funding shortfall.
At the meeting councillor Jon Hubbard said the land, if sold, would likely go to a housing developer.
Jerry Haslam, who started the petition with his wife Tracy, has lived in Melksham for 13 years. Jerry said, “The land suggested is a well-used play area, former tennis court and open green space, and it would affect a lot of people if we were to lose it.
“It’s a popular facility for the neighbourhood; the kind of place where people walk their dogs and children can play and learn to ride their bikes. I don’t know where else people could go if that wasn’t there.
“We’re already going to have the main campus built right next to us, if houses were built on the park we’d be surrounded. Town centre green spaces like this should be looked after, not sold off to developers.
“Our petition is around 15 sheets long now – about 150 names – and the entire estate is against the idea. I’m not against progress but I am against not using common sense. There are other, less needed areas that could and should be sold instead.”
The park came under threat after it was suggested that land could be sold to help fill the campus project’s £5million funding shortfall. The area was named as a possibility alongside the old tennis courts at Melksham House and the Blue Pool site.
Other options included scaling back the Market Place redevelopment and using funds from Melksham Town Council.
Andy Green, who lives on the estate said, “Residents around the Hazelwood Road area are becoming increasingly concerned that this much loved and used play and dog exercising area is apparently going to be sacrificed to help fill the massive gap in funding for the ever-delayed campus.
“To lose a beautiful open area like this will be a disgrace.
“We want to show our councillors that this should not be an option; they need to modify the plans for the campus or consider a temporary rise in council tax to cover the funding. That way all Melksham residents can contribute to their proposed facility.
“If they build on this small area the others in our town will be next.”
Work is expected to begin on the main campus next year for completion in 2017.