A NEW multi-use games area (MUGA) looks set to be built in Wilmslow despite fears it could become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

Cheshire East Council officers are calling on the northern planning committee to approve plans to transform the historic Browns Lane playing fields at its meeting on Wednesday.

Ansa – the council-owned environmental services firm – wants to build a MUGA along with a new play area and kick-about football pitch, while upgrading the fields’ drainage and pathways.

A dozen households, along with CEC’s environmental health team, have raised concerns about a possible rise in anti-social behaviour at the fields if a MUGA is built there.

An Elderberry Way resident who wrote to CEC said: “Putting a MUGA into this green space development is flawed and doesn’t sit well with the surrounds.

“Not only will it look an eyesore it will encourage the sort of problems encountered at Meriton Road Park in Handforth – anti-social behaviour and all that goes with it.”

Meanwhile, a Walnut Close resident suggested the MUGA would be ‘overbearing on neighbouring properties’ and would be ‘an eyesore to neighbours’.

The objector added: “The MUGA will lead to increased anti-social behaviour and late night noise as a result of increased gatherings.

“Siting the MUGA away from street lights will only partially mitigate gatherings in summer evenings.”

Other concerns from residents include the proposed 3m high fence being an eyesore, light pollution and possible drainage issues.

But Wilmslow Town Council has not objected to the scheme, and planning officers want the northern planning committee to give the green light for the plans on Wednesday.

They insist there could still be anti-social behaviour on the fields with or without the MUGA – and believe the proposals will bring a number of benefits to the community.

Knutsford Guardian:

Plans for the revamped playing fields

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, officers say the scheme would ‘provide increased opportunities’ to improve residents’ health and wellbeing.

They also suggest that while there would be noise and visual impacts from the development, they are ‘considered to be within acceptable limits’ for the scheme to go ahead subject to conditions.

In a report submitted to CEC, Ruth Morgan, from Ansa, said: “The MUGA is intended for a number of purposes. It provides a hard-wearing playable surface at all times of the year and it can be used for other informal activities such as cycling and scootering as well as the traditional court games.

“It is also intended for older children to experience some independence away from younger children and parents while still in a safe and visible environment.

“The proposed improvements, enhancements and additions will provide much-needed additional facilities required for the growing community with enough capacity for further improvements as the community grows and needs change.”

Ansa’s upgrade of the Browns Lane playing fields, which have been plagued by drainage issues in the past, is being funded by housebuilder contributions from nearby developments.

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The playing fields are believed to have previously been part of the Browns Lane Farm, and the pond – which is set for improvement as part of the drainage scheme – has been a feature there for more than 100 years.

By 1910 the site was divided into two fields while residential development took place nearby, and the Royal Air Force had a site to the west of the fields from the 1940s until 1975.

In a masterplan for the fields unveiled last year, CEC said it wants to ‘develop an exciting, diverse and attractive public space for a growing community’ – as well as enhancing the site’s biodiversity.