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Anger over plans for Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley
2:02pm Saturday 26th October 2013 in News
Residents claim a major plan to transform a Hampshire beauty spot could turn it into a theme park.
A scheme has been revealed to clear trees and scrubland at the Royal Victoria Country Park.
The play area may also be redeveloped with a zip wire, treehouses and sandpits.
This comes after the park won a £100,000 grant and is meant to make the play area more accessible to disabled children.
Managers hope the changes will also attract more people to help finance the park in Netley Abbey. But the plans have angered residents who claim the scheme could turn the historic site into a theme park.
Pink dots mark the trees under consideration, in the area between the cafe and the seafront.
A number of memorial trees – sponsored by a family member for a loved one – are among those earmarked for possible felling.
However, park management said this would only be done with the consent of the family.
One resident said: “We’re suddenly going to get a Paultons Park here to get people to come in.”
Another said: “It seems you are turning it into a theme park.”
Marion Moore, 75, of Woolston, works in the former hospital and walks her dog there four times a day.
She said: “Yes there are changes, we have got to go with the flow, but it just seems more commercial reasoning than anything."
Marion, pictured below with daughter Nicola, added: “I’m concerned it will change the park. It’s special as it is.”
Liz Brimley, of Netley, said: “It’s changing the whole concept – the name is Royal Victoria Country Park not Royal Victoria Theme Park.”
But Hampshire County Council country parks boss Adam Owen, pictured below, said some trees were dead or dying.
It is understood fewer than 50 trees are affected, none of which are mature, and make up only around one per cent of the total trees.
Under the plans, which will go out to public consultation, around 25 of the park’s 300 memorial trees would go, most of which are said to be dead or dying and will be replaced.
The park has seen a significant increase in visitors – from 233,000 in 2010/2011 to 435,000 in 2012/2013, putting pressure on its facilities.
Mr Owen said in 2013/2014 the cost to manage the park is £340,000, but the income is £284,000 – so it is running at a deficit and the council wants all its parks self- financing by 2016.
Residents expressed other concerns in-cluding the loss of trees for children to climb in and loss of shade to play in.
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