Village trials teen 'hangout' zone as young children feel intimidated
- Credit: Natasha Carver
A Norwich parish council is trialling a teenage "hangout" zone following reports that some were hijacking a community play area and intimidating younger children.
Hellesdon Parish Council opened The Yard at Hellesdon Recreation Ground on Friday, May 7 after police said creating a space solely for teenagers to relax with their friends may draw them away from using play equipment.
Parish clerk Natasha Carver said: "There were two play areas initially but two years ago it was decided the equipment would be amalgamated into one space.
"The other space fell into disuse and became a place for grass to grow. We thought it was perfect for a teenage hangout if it was just cleared up and made a bit more inviting."
Ms Carver said the issue was that teenagers were using the existing play equipment as a place to sit and socialise because they had nowhere else to go.
She said Hellesdon used to have a youth shelter but that was burnt down and vandalised.
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She explained: "Recently we've had a lot of antisocial behaviour reported to us by parents of younger children in the area, reports that they're just running all over the place and using bad language.
"So we're hoping this system, which is just being trialled for the moment, allays some of that conflict and works for everyone."
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She said the decision was made at a council committee meeting on Thursday, April 29, with the old play area - named The Yard by local students - opening on May 7.
In the week between the area was cleared and made safe, with neon signage designed by a local student attached to the metal fencing to signify the hangout zone.
Ms Carver said: "The idea here is to engage with teenagers in Hellesdon and find out what they actually want this space to be.
"It's no use parents saying their kids want zipwires or gym equipment, because clearly they don't. It might be that they just want swings or additional seating.
"Budget allowing, we eventually hope it'll be more like Eaton Park. We have planning permission for an extension to the community centre and in theory would like to make a larger community space and cafe, with The Yard then becoming it's courtyard."