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Little Marlow residents hit out at running track proposals
RESIDENTS have hit out at a proposed running track in Little Marlow which they say is a "badly thought out, rushed proposal."
Wycombe District Council (WDC) exhibited proposals for an athletic track to be built on land adjacent to Westhorpe Farm.
The plans, which were met with an optimistic response by some residents when they were displayed earlier this year, showed an eight lane track, car park, off-road cycle way and jogging path.
But some residents said it is a misconception that the local residents are in favour of or ambivalent about the running track.
Martin Braint, from Church Road, Little Marlow, said: "The council wants to start building the track in November 2012, no time at all to get it right and to seek the locals views.
"How can the council of all people wish to rush something through so fast? It is totally undemocratic and shows a great disrespect for the people who are directly affected by the proposed development"
The proposed £1.5million plan, which includes opening up footpaths to access the seven lakes and Spade Oak Lake Nature Reserve, is in green belt land.
A proposed running track in Hazlemere was turned down in March 2010. Mr Braint said: "The Little Marlow proposal appears to be a badly thought out, rushed proposal by a desperate council."
He raised concerns about the traffic control on an already busy road and how users will enter and leave the site.
He said the existing plan contradicts the wording of the proposal.
Mr Braint said the council claims the track will be used "infrequently" and said if that was the case then why spend £1.5million on it.
He also questioned if visitors to the country park can use the car park and the facilities and will they have to pay to park.
He said the only benefit apart from parking and toilet facilities seems to be a single footpath, which will only have a 30 year lease.
Mr Braint added: "It appears that there is very little gain for the locals visiting this so called park, of which we already have access to. Let's face it while businesses own the country park land there will always be controlled access."
Mr Braint said the local plan states that any development in the country park should be in the west and not in the north.
A meeting was held last Thursday where WDC met with representatives of Little Marlow Residents Association, Little Marlow Lakes Country Park Community Partnership and Little Marlow Parish Council.
Mr Braint said Major Projects and Estates Executive at WDC, Charles Brocklehurst, claimed the barn on site is old and the land is a desert, but he said the barn is just three-years-old and the site has wild flowers and wildlife.
WDC spokesman, Sue Robinson, said as a result of the exhibition, some residents had expressed concerns about planning policy, highways, lighting and landscaping.
She said concerns could be addressed and satisfactory solutions found. In response to concerns raised about local traffic, highways engineers gave more details about the non-peak time use of the proposed track and ways to improve the junction and reduce traffic speed.
Mrs Robinson added: "The council believes that the current proposal for a running track at Little Marlow offers the opportunity to create a new sporting facility that could benefit people of all ages. "The investment into the site could also mean the start of a process of opening up the proposed country park to everyone."
She said the council is aware of residents concern that the proposal - which is in an area designated as in the Green Belt - could lead to further development, should it be granted planning permission.
While essential sports facilities are permissible within the Green Belt, each case is decided on its individual merits. For more information about the proposals, go to www.wycombe.gov.uk and search ‘running track’.
A meeting of the Little Marlow Parish Council planning committee to discuss the proposed athletics track at Westhorpe will be held on July 31 at 8pm at The Pavilion, Recreation Ground, Little Marlow. The public and press are invited to attend.