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Residents oppose plans for running track in Little Marlow
PLANS for a running track in Little Marlow were last night compared to a film where a baseball diamond was built on remote farmland.
Land next to Westhorpe Farm in the village has been identified as a possible site for the running track at Handy Cross to be relocated to by Wycombe District Council.
But last night, at a meeting of the parish council, a resident compared the proposals to the film Field of Dreams, which features a farmer constructing a baseball park on his land.
Resident John Burnham said: "In the film Field of Dreams he builds a stadium in open countryside, miles from any town with the belief if you build it, they will come.
"He builds it and by George they did come, from miles and miles around in cars. I don't think that's what Little Marlow wants. It's certainly not something I'd like to see visited upon Marlow."
Mr Burnham added the running track plans would simply enable the council to push through proposals to redevelop Handy Cross.
He said: "This is nothing more than an enabling project to allow their [the council] commercial flagship to be built, with five new office blocks and the new coachway."
The £1.5million proposals include an eight lane track, car park, off-road cycle way and jogging path, while footpaths allowing access to seven lakes and Spade Oak Lake nature reserve would also be opened up.
It would be built on green belt land and the plans were met with a negative response from people attending last night's meeting.
Roger Randall, who operates Westhorpe Water Sports Centre, said "with his business hat on" he was not opposed to the running track, but said he objected to the 'add ons' such as a car park.
He said: "If you've ever been to Court Garden at 9.30 or 10pm, seeing kids wheel around the car park or sitting in their cars drinking cans of lager - we don't want that down here."
Questions about security, especially over a planned 250 space car park, were also raised.
Cllr Philip Emmett said: "It's going to be a huge area - how will they secure that? It will require lighting, which could cause possible light pollution."
Resident Anthony Mash said the car park would "double up nicely as a travellers' site".
Plans to relocate the track to Hazlemere have already been shelved after opposition from residents, with Little Marlow now being identified as a possible location.
The proposals are currently subject to a public consultation and recently went on display at a public exhibition.
But Barbara Wallis, chairman of Little Marlow Parish Council's planning committee, said: "I'm disappointed that following the exhibition and the Community Partnership's questions, little was done to provide the evidence base there were very special circumstances for the development to take place in the green belt and adjacent to the Chilterns AONB. It's not clear that this application is justified on the green belt land."
Cllr Wallis said she wants figures detailing the number of people using Handy Cross, and on what days and what times, which schools use the site and how they get there, and the number of weekend events that currently take place and how many people attend.
She also wants to see maps showing where users of the athletics track travel in from and evidence other locations have been investigated and the reasons for rejecting them.
She said when Marlow FC wanted to build a new stadium at the Little Marlow Gravel Pits in 2009, more than 20 other sites were looked at and rejected.