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6th Jul, 2022

Residents hit out Newbold Comyn masterplan for being 'too commercial'

THE NEWBOLD Comyn masterplan has been slammed by residents for being ‘too commercial’.

Campaigners have highlighted concerns over the plan to develop the 180 hectare site by adding visitor and sports facilities, increasing parking spaces, creating cycle trails and expanding nature reserves.

The draft masterplan for the former golf course was approved by Warwick District Council earlier this month following two public consultations.

But campaigner Kate Pittel, along with other residents, launched a petition earlier in the year after a council document recommended a dog ban in the area. While it was decided against, Kate says the petition continued to be signed with residents and dog owners concerned the developed site would be restrictive for regular walkers.

She said: “The vast majority of people value the open space, the views and their freedom to walk and enjoy their surroundings. Most people don’t want their freedom to use Newbold Comyn curtailed or restricted.

“Only around 15 per cent of people wanted more activities, yet they are still ‘zoning’ areas of Newbold Comyn for future use. If these areas are used for activities in the future, this will without doubt change the landscape dramatically and lead to restrictions for the general public.

“Far more people go there to walk than to cycle, yet they’re planning on spending nearly £500,000 on cycle routes. There were also a large number of concerns about how walkers could safely share the paths with cyclists.

“There are formal activities at both Jephson Gardens and Victoria Park where families and children are encouraged to visit and make use of them. Newbold Comyn is a very different kind of space and it’s highly valued by a lot of people. Why can’t the council listen to what the users of that space want and leave it well alone?”

In the latest consultation, around 60 per cent of residents who responded said they would use the cycle trail, but only around 14 per cent said they would use additional football pitches.

Around 30 per cent of people were in support of extra parking spaces – which some say is counteractive to the council’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the district – while a quarter were against.

The response also suggested the extension to the nature reserve was the most supported and valued aspect.

And the viability of a proposed new cafe, and its impact on neighbouring businesses, were among concerns raised – but the plan has remained as part of the final draft.

The proposal also seeks to retain spaces for future outdoor activities, to be reviewed by spring 2022, since there was little appetite for activities in the current business climate.

The council says the shared use of the developed site will be looked at as part of the ‘detailed design work’.

A council spokesman said: “Warwick District Council will be engaging with dog walkers at Newbold Comyn as part of the phased approach to implementing the masterplan, alongside consultees such as The Kennel Club and The Dogs Trust.”

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