Bradley Stoke Town Council has finally reached a decision on the future of the hard court area and some of the surrounding grounds at its Brook Way Activity Centre, more than two years after it conducted a public consultation on the future of the site.
The matter was tabled for discussion at July’s meeting of Full Council after mayor Cllr Elaine Hardwick had identified it as a priority for her year in office in an interview with the Journal following her election to the role in May.
After admitting that the working group set up to consider the results of the consultation had “died a death” [having failed to produce any formal reports and there being no public record of it actually meeting for almost two years], Cllr Hardwick introduced a short report compiled by the council’s youth development and participation worker Graham Baker. This summarised previously discussed options for the Brook Way site such as the creation of additional car parking space and new or extended buildings and put forward some alternative ideas, including the reinstatement /development of sports facilities and the installation of a bespoke converted shipping container to act as a base for youth work.
Cllr Hardwick then moved swiftly on to outline her own vision for the site, which she said she had formulated after “taking another look at the consultation results”.
It quickly became apparent that she was less than enthusiastic about seeing another building erected on the site, pointing out that the council’s three existing activity centres “are not being used to their potential”. In relation to spending on youth provision, she added, perhaps with reference to the near £300k recently spent on the town’s new skate park: “We have done a lot for the youth, now we need to consider other age groups.”
Cllr Hardwick’s vision included converting the hard court area to a green open space where people could sit and talk, play games like ‘big chess’ and enjoy new facilities such as a climbing wall and a sand pit.
Mr Baker countered with the view that, based on his long experience, operating youth provision in shared spaces “doesn’t work”, but the mayor found support from several other councillors – including Arthur Lau, who said young people should be encouraged to use existing community facilities such as the leisure centre.
It was also pointed out that the council already runs a successful weekly youth club for girls and young women in shared space at another of its sites, the Jubilee Centre.
Drawing the debate to a conclusion, Cllr Hardwick said there was a need to get the matter sorted as it had “been going on for far too long”.
Following further discussion, councillors unanimously agreed to “use the earmarked reserve [of £50,000] to extend the current car park towards the existing grass area [to the west of the site], use the hard courts as open green space and ask the GP surgery if they are willing to contribute financially towards an increase in the GP surgery car park”.
Photo: The existing car park at Brook Way Activity Centre and Bradley Stoke Surgery (archive image).
Related link: Public consultation results (BSTC)
Future of Brook Way hard court area: Timeline of events
18/09/13: Attempt by then mayor Cllr Brian Hopkinson to force through an outline proposal to construct two buildings on the hard court area, one for a charity and the other for youth provision.
20/11/13: Officers produce a report outlining some possibilities for the site and are asked by councillors to organise a public consultation.
23/01/14 to 5/3/14: Public consultation, with scope expanded to include not only the hard court, but also a sizeable area of land to the west of the community centre and the access drive into the site from Brook Way.
12/03/14: Consultation results published, showing 59 percent of respondents asking for something to be done about parking and 20 percent suggesting a “new building” of some form. Leisure, Youth & Amenities (LY&A) Committee asked to look into ideas in more detail and come back to council in 6-8 months’ time.
16/06/14: Working group reports that it “had agreed that whatever happens on the site, parking consideration must be a priority”. LY&A Committee directs that meeting(s) should be arranged to give residents who had suggested a new building on the site the opportunity to express their views in person.
14/08/14: A meeting was held to discuss suggestions for a new building. The 56 people who suggested a new building in the consultation were invited, but only two organisations sent representatives. Residents of properties adjoining the Brook Way site were also invited to attend. At the meeting, residents questioned the need to erect new buildings when the current activity centre on the site is under-utilised.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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