Bid to stop houses being built on kids’ playground

Langlee’s jubilee playpark in Beech Avenue is being threatened by Waverley Housing Association’s bid to build six houses on the site.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 9:43 am
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 9:47 am
The opening of the new play park in 2012: From left, Judith Cleghorn, chair of langlee residents association, Gerry Moss, chair of waverley tenants organisation and then Galashiels councillor John Mitchell.

The playpark was opened in 2012 at a cost of £100,000, helped by National Lottery funding of £84,000, which might have to be repaid if it is ripped up to make way for housing.

However, at last week’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council, chairwoman Judith Cleghorn, who also chairs Langlee Residents’ Association, owner of the land the park is on, said she doesn’t want to see the park go.

She said: “The playpark is on the accounts of the residents’ association and is valued at £57,042.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We applied to the National Lottery for funding for the park, and they provided £84,000 towards it.

“They are well within their rights to ask for part or all of it back if the park is taken away. Who will pay that?”

She added: “I know I spent many hours, along with others, bringing the playpark to Langlee, and I hope you will support me when I say that we do not want to lose it.

“We have had some problems with vandalism at the park in the past, but no more than any other.”

Mrs Cleghorn said Waverley Housing Association had offered £1,600 a year to help run the residents’ association in return for signing over the land.

Other members of the community council supported Mrs Cleghorn, saying they would rather the playpark stayed.

Bill White said: “I would dismiss it out of hand. I don’t know why they would want to build there anyway.”

Waverley Housing’s operations director Gregor Booth said the social landlord is willing to consult with community leaders and residents to find the best way forward.

He added: “We carried out a consultation exercise last year with residents living in Beech Avenue, Hawthorn Road, Laurel Grove and Larch Grove.

“Our original proposal for four playparks on the estate was not supported by a majority of residents, and as a result we advised residents that we would look to draw up alternative proposals for playpark provision on the estate.

“We hope to have these alternative proposals worked up in the next couple of months, after which we will undertake a further consultation exercise with all residents in those streets.

“On conclusion of the consultation exercise, we hope to be in a position to make a final decision on the number and position of any playparks on the estate.”

Mr Booth said that the playpark can stay where it is if that is what residents want.

He said: “Our original proposal did provide for six amenity houses to be located on the site of the play area, but this is dependent on us being able to secure a transfer of ownership of the land from Langlee Residents’ Association to Waverley Housing.

“The residents’ association have been liaising with the National Lottery about this, and once further information is received from them, we will, in conjunction with the residents’ association, consider how best to progress this matter.

“The option of keeping the playpark in its existing location is one that can be included in our consultation exercise.”