Riverside campaigners prepare to fight again

BATTLE lines are once again being drawn by campaigners who want to prevent Huntingdon s Riverside Park from becoming a car park in disguise . A public meeting has been called tomorrow (Thursday) by the Riverside Users Group (RUG) to dispute some of the p

BATTLE lines are once again being drawn by campaigners who want to prevent Huntingdon's Riverside Park from becoming a "car park in disguise".

A public meeting has been called tomorrow (Thursday) by the Riverside Users Group (RUG) to dispute some of the plans put the park forward by Huntingdonshire District Council.

The park is set for a £600,000 upgrade, but while the group agrees with many of the improvements, the removal of the park's current football pitches has again become the contentious issue.

HDC wants to replace them with two mini-soccer pitches, a multi-use gym area and a reinforced grass area that can be used by fairs and circuses visiting the town.


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The group's major concern surrounds the reinforced grass area - a site that could be used as a hard surface for visiting fairs.

Robert Cossey-Mowle, a member of RUG who lives in Hartford Road, told The Hunts Post: "This is one step before turning the space into a car park. We need to have grass in this area. The park is a flood barrier for the town and it soaks up all the water.

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"If it is concreted over, it will affect the new Luminus estate.

"But the worst thing about the [reinforced area] is that it will cause injuries. Kids will twist their ankles on it - it will be like playing on a hard playground."

The group is understood to have handed out over 1,500 leaflets calling people to the meeting at St Michael's Church, Hartford Road - opposite the site of the pitches.

RUG chairman, Dudley Simons has also said that a new shelter proposed for the park could attract under-age drinkers.

The first plan for the park included a scheme to realign the 300-space car park to add another 150 spaces, removing one of the football pitches in the process.

Protestors launched a campaign to save the green space, backed by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the town's sports community.

HDC has said its new plans would substantially improve the area.

Money will be spent in the formal area between the bridge and the boatyard. It will include improving the entrances opposite the Old Bridge Hotel and from the ring road, creating a new path inside the park parallel to the ring road, putting up a shelter in the centre of the park, improving moorings and creating formal fishing pegs.

When the plans were revealed in February, HDC's planning policy manager, Richard Probyn, said: "The car park almost acts as a barrier [between the formal park and the much larger wild area] so we want to reduce car parking to create a wide green corridor.

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