HEART Playground  

We have heard back from the Council on our application to remove the historic planning conditions requiring the old school playground to be used solely as a carpark. Unfortunately this was refused on the grounds that “the application to remove the conditions would have resulted in an unrestricted planning permission for the premises in terms of noise and parking/servicing which would not provide adequate safeguards in terms of highway safety and amenity.”

However the Planning Officer went on to say, “I think your justification for wanting to reduce the amount of parking within the site is well reasoned” and he noted that the Highways Officer had agreed that a reduction in parking provision would be acceptable in principle. Any such change would be assessed within the broader plans for how the outside space could be used in the future. So the most appropriate way forward would be to consider making a full planning application.

This is obviously a disappointing outcome. As 329 (84%) of the 391 individuals who responded to our surveys during the summer were in favour of less car-centric uses for the outside space at HEART, this will doubtless be disappointing news to many of you as well. Sadly, one of the consequences is that HEART’s family-centred activities such as Apple Day and Wonder Day may not be able to use the outside space as part of their celebrations in future, as we will have to maintain access for car drivers who wish to park there.

The HEART board will now be considering whether to apply for full planning permission. This would be a not insubstantial task, requiring both time (from staff and volunteers) and money (for professional support) but one for which we have seen that we have a lot of support for from HEART users and HDT members. We will of course keep you informed on this decision.