Loss of green space would be terrible

I LIVE just across the road from the proposed new car park, and I was appalled to see what the council has planned for the land. Currently, from my bedroom window I have a fantastic view of the field, the river and the land beyond. If the car park goes ah

I LIVE just across the road from the proposed new car park, and I was appalled to see what the council has planned for the land. Currently, from my bedroom window I have a fantastic view of the field, the river and the land beyond. If the car park goes ahead I will be left with simply row upon row of cars for most of the day - somewhat less appealing than the present greenery.

Having lived here for just over 10 years - we moved to the house when I was eight - I have many memories of the riverside, and continue to spend a lot of time there.

Currently, the majority of the car park is hidden away behind the rowing club, meaning that when I go down for picnics or kick-abouts with my friends it in no way impacts on the environment. With cars covering half of the area, not only would we have to be extremely careful about where we kicked a ball, but the pleasant nature of the area for studying, playing and picnicking would be lost.

As a young child it was a great play to go out and play. The river and main road are, for a majority of their lengths, fenced off, and the car park is far enough away from the field not to pose a problem. When the goalposts were up, football was an obvious choice, and when they were not there was plenty of space for pretty much anything else we could lay our hands on the equipment for. Cricket, tennis, badminton and swing ball were a few favourites.

Everyone is aware that the parking situation in Huntingdon is untenable, but destroying a well-loved community resource to alleviate the stresses is not the solution. Encouraging those people that can to leave their cars at home and walk or cycle to work would probably greatly ease the situation, as would building a car park on land that is not so well used. The wasteland of the proposed Lidl site springs to mind as a large, central location which currently serves no useful purpose, in addition to not suffering from the annual flooding that plagues the riverside.

The riverside really is a fantastic area for people of all ages, and the loss of it would certainly been keenly felt by myself and many of my friends, not to mention the many families we frequently see enjoying themselves. It is simply not justifiable to deny people half of a beautiful area of green space so that more people are able to park their cars conveniently.

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JOE FARRINGTON, Hartford Road, Huntingdon

IT would seem that parts of the district council are working in opposing directions. The council has introduced a relatively successful rubbish reclamation scheme and is now embracing energy conservation and the use of renewals with some enthusiasm.

At the same time, however, it is encouraging the use of the private car and the associated destruction of what little green areas remain, as well contributing to CO2 emissions.

Over a period of years Huntingdon has successfully pedestrianised itself, only to move the traffic somewhere else. In the end the car always wins. In this case it will destroy a riverside area which any sensitive planner would realise is aesthetically a huge asset to Huntingdon.

It should be preserved with imagination and care before the riverside becomes one long concrete ribbon. Resist the car and keep our precious green spaces.

DON WALTON, Hunts Green Party, Hemingford Grey

* WE oppose in the strongest possible terms the planning application to extend the Riverside car park facility by destroying green recreational space, including a football pitch.

Nobody in this day and age should be contemplating any scheme that involves the replacement of living, green areas with concrete and tarmac. The environmental and ecological reasons for not doing this are self-evident - especially if, as council representatives have claimed at meetings and in the press, this is intended only as a temporary measure. You can't temporarily remove the well-established wildlife habitat and eco-systems which this historic green field represents.

The final sentence of the supporting statement: "It is considered that the development will enhance the natural environment with additional increase in hedging and natural features" is not only inaccurate (since when is tarmac a natural feature?) - it is an insult to the intellect of Huntingdonians if the planners think we will fall for such blatant spin.

It is simply not true to say that the area is only used at weekends, mainly for children's football. It is used practically every weekday evening, as well as at weekends, for a variety of adult and children's football team practices and matches. Able-bodied and disabled groups, women's, men's and children's teams all regularly use both football pitches and the adjacent areas.

It is also completely untrue to say that there are "sufficient pitches located in more suitable locations, ie nearer local communities". There are no other pitches located within Huntingdon town centre.

Aside from the organised football training sessions and matches, the area is also used by a multitude of Huntingdon residents, as well as shoppers, visitors and tourists, for a variety of recreational activities, including informal football, picnics, kite-flying, dog-walking etc. The public's use of the area could be increased even further if Huntingdonshire District Council bothered at all to promote its use, eg for summer fetes, carnivals etc.

The proposal document cites a public consultation exercise carried out in 2004. Parking was not even discussed as part of that consultation.

The reduction in pitch provision, from two pitches to just one (which is to be relocated in a less suitable place), coupled with the lack of other local pitches within the catchment area, means that this planning application fails to meets Sport England's policy regarding playing fields.

Other alternative solutions to the alleged parking shortage in Huntingdon should be pursued, such as park and ride facilities using existing parking areas (which in some cases could be expanded to multi-storey facilities) around the periphery of the town (eg Huntingdon train station, Spittals industrial area) or by developing new car parking areas on existing 'brownfield' sites.

Public transport into and within the town centre should be enhanced and properly publicised and promoted. A proper system of cycle lanes should also be developed.

If those responsible for this entirely misguided and inappropriate application have any sense of decency, they should withdraw the application.

DEBRA AND ROBERT COSSEY-MOWLE, Hartford Road, Huntingdon