A NEW GROUP has entered the battle for Westbridge Park – supporting the development of a new leisure centre.
While many residents have voiced fierce opposition to redevelopment in the park – described by some as Stone’s green lung – others are calling for residents to keep an open mind to the potential of new facilities for a growing town.
A Facebook group has been set up, called A New Leisure Centre for Westbridge Park, and has already been backed by more than 100 people.
Visitors to the page are being asked to say what leisure facilities they would like in the park. Currently the most popular choices are a children’s play area like the one at Stafford’s Victoria Park and a swimming pool heated using green energy.
Louise Cockburn, one of the supporters who arranged a meeting at the park on Saturday, said: “We are really looking forward to seeing what the planners design for us and I hope they look on the Facebook page to see what local people want out of the new facilities.
“I really don't understand why some folk are so negative about any redevelopment to Westbridge Park. Having new developments would bring more of the community together.
“Think of our children’s future and what they want, and what their children would like. There is so much potential for Westbridge. More and more houses are being built in Stone with many more to come- this means more families with children, more people who are into fitness and more need of shopping.
“I am a mum to four boys, three of which love going to Stafford and Longton parks and I know of many other parents who are forced to travel out of their own town to entertain their children at a decent park. Stone is surely populated enough with youngsters to justify the need for a bigger, better park and populated enough for a new redeveloped leisure centre with a pool.
“We have to accept change - change for the future, change for the best. I myself would have liked nothing more than for Stone to be how it was 30 years ago, but with all the expansion of housing and growth of population we all need to accept changes to our surroundings.”
More than 4,700 people signed a petition opposing Stafford Borough Council’s proposal for mixed use development at the park contained in its local plan.
There are concerns that a new leisure centre, to replace the “obsolete” facilities currently at the park, would come at the cost of allowing a supermarket to be built there too.
Councillor Rob Kenney, who started the Keep Westbridge Green campaign, has previously said Stone Business Park would be a more suitable location for a new leisure centre.