Samantha's stand against development
By James HoreA SCHOOLGIRL, devastated by a plan to transform a rural play area used by generations of children into housing and access roads, has started a petition in protest.
By James Hore
A SCHOOLGIRL, devastated by a plan to transform a rural play area used by generations of children into housing and access roads, has started a petition in protest.
When 13-year-old Samantha Oliver heard land behind White Colne Village Hall was earmarked for development, she was so shocked she decided something had to be done.
In a short space of time the teenager, who lives in Colchester Road, and her friend Hayley Briggs, 12, collected almost 100 signatures.
Essex County Council, which owns the land, has applied for outline planning permission for housing and access roads in the area behind the hall.
The land has been used by villagers since 1965 as a play area for football, biking and also as a place where mothers and toddlers play and where people walk their dogs.
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Samantha's mother, Zoe, said she was proud of the stand the children had taken.
“I am very proud of what they have done. They were up there at the weekend and somebody mentioned to them they should make the most of it before it was changed,” she added.
“It is the only place that children have got to play in the village. Last year the concrete basketball court was added, but now it could all be lost.”
Samantha's petition has received widespread support from the community.
June Taylor, parish council vice-chairman, said: “This is the only place children have got to play and it is safe, away from a road and is surrounded by houses so people can see them playing.
“All that will be lost - it could become just car parking for the village hall.”
Parish councillor, Kelly Adams, added: “The feedback from people in the village is that they are very concerned. Young people are devastated - they play there because it is a nice green area and it is safe.
“The plans have come as a shock. They have been talking about it for years, but everybody is very shocked that it may now go ahead.
“I really admire what the children are doing with the petition. It is incredibly brave thing to do and they deserve all they can achieve.”
A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The application is out to public consultation and any inquiries or concerns will be seriously considered.
“The parish council have used a building on this site for a little while, but only on a year-to-year basis.
“If the application goes ahead, then it will secure the future of the site and enable for them to plan for the future use of the hall over many years.”