New play area in Shoebury refused over safety concerns

Plans to build a new play area in Shoebury have been thrown out by councillors after concerns were raised about child safety.

Concerns about the plans for Shoebury Common North were raised during a meeting on Wednesday afternoon when councillors raised a series of safety concerns.

They focused primarily on the decision to build a play area with play equipment, benches and picnic tables close to a road which could result in young children attempting to cross without adult supervision.

Concerns were also raised about the danger of having a play area so close to a nearby pub.

Conservative Councillor David Garston said: “Most children’s play areas are in parks but this is a children’s play area in section of green space, right next to a pub and right next to road.

“I would be sad to vote against it but at the same time we have to get this right.”

Conservative councillor Denis Garne also said he had also been left conflicted by the plans because “the danger strikes me as quite significant due to children crossing that road”.

He added: “One gets to wonder just how safe this is. I feel very conflicted, it is a nice idea but is it the best idea.”

The plans were submitted by Southend Council and so it would not be possible for an appeal to be lodged but council officers told the committee that if it was a private development they do not believe the arguments were strong enough and an applicant could win.

Despite this, Councillor Brian Ayling said he was still not willing to risk approving the plans when there could be a danger to a child’s life.

He said: “I think this is a wonderful idea but I’ rather not rush in to it risking a child’s life.”

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Mick Ferris

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