Developer pledge on Woodstock play area's future

thisisoxfordshire: Stan Scott, front, and Old Woodstock families  at the Rosamund Drive play area Stan Scott, front, and Old Woodstock families at the Rosamund Drive play area

HOPES have been raised of a ‘happy ending’ for a Woodstock play park under threat of development.

Woodstock Town Council received a letter from landowner Caledonia Land and Properties Ltd on July 16 giving notice to quit the Rosamund Drive playground.

The company said the council had until August 31 to leave the site, which is used by children from 100 households in Old Woodstock.

Caledonia Land and Properties Ltd has leased the site to Woodstock Town Council at a pepper corn rate of £1 for the past 16 years.

But the firm’s executive director Charles Cayzer has moved to reassure the town.

He said the council had been served the notice as part of attempts to end a neighbouring farm tenancy.

While he would not make any assurances about the play area, he said: “I will go and look at it this weekend and speak to whoever is necessary. I am sure we can have a happy outcome one way or another.

“We have given the council free use of it for 16 years, which is a measure of our goodwill and our feelings have not changed.”

A council meeting on Tuesday night saw about 60 Old Woodstock residents pack the town hall.

Deputy mayor Elaine Stokes told them: “This notice to quit came out-of-the-blue to us and we were just shocked.

“To lose the play park would be a tragedy. It is our one and only amenity.”

Councillor Colin Carritt said: “Old Woodstock has a thriving young population and many youngsters take advantage of the play area.

“If we lose it in effect the children will have no play area to go to.

“Parents are not going to walk all the way down the A44, all the way up to the top of the town to Budds Close just for 15 minutes on the slides.”

Councillors agreed to issue a statement, which said: “We seek assurances from Caledonia that they will engage with us in face-to-face dialogue in order to find a solution that will not require the children of Old Woodstock to travel to the far side of the town for recreation.”

A town meeting has been called on August 17 in the New Road community centre from 7.30pm to discuss the matter with residents.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Old Woodstock resident Stan Scott, 72, said: “We feel our little community is under attack from a big company.

“Losing the play area will be devastating to the estate and community. It is the only facility there for youngsters.”

Martin Galpin, 39, of Old Woodstock, said: “It is shocking from our point of view.”

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