WIGAN Youth Zone staff have been accused of blocking a public right of way with their cars.
Now a protest group is demanding that the council ensures the showpiece facility - officially opened by the Prime Minister last week - abides by conditions set by town hall chiefs when planning permission was granted last year.
Mesnes Conservation Area Group claims the problem is now detracting from the ability of the public to use the surviving chunk of the former grammar school cricket fields behind the complex and the emerging Wigan University Technical College.
Members’ anger is focused on the right of way from New Market Street to Mesnes Park Terrace.
Spokesman Brian Parr said: “The path is now being employed to park vehicles on a daily basis and that contravenes the original planning permission for the Youth Zone operating on the west side of Mesnes Field, since the route was intended for purely a pedestrian walkway giving access to Mesnes Park and Mesnes Park Terrace.
“Furthermore, the planning process was obligated to enhance the remaining area of the field and we feel having cars obstructing the paths create a dangerous obstruction to babies in prams.
“In particular it detracts from the rural aspect and subsequent enjoyment of the area significantly.”
Mr Parr said that just months after the Youth Zone’s opening, planning conditions requiring staff to use a car park at the side of the former Drumcroon gallery were no longer being strictly adhered to.
The conservation group now wants the council to erect no parking signs and for wardens to enforce them.
Mr Parr said: “The access onto the green field amenity for the general local population who cannot use the Youth Zone due to age restrictions is being constrained.
“We emphatically feel that the gates on New Market Street and Mesnes Park Terrace should be open at all times to enable the neighbourhood residents to use the residual part of the field, for which we have an outstanding claim to via a Town or Village Green application.
“We don’t want a precedent to be set by thoughtless car-parking, such that the remaining part of the field is then adopted for a car parking area from a planning proposal initiated by either the Youth Zone or the University Technical College.”
He said the group was awaiting a response from the council over its offer to purchase the remaining part of Mesnes Field for £5,000 to secure it for “community group” use.
Or, if this were unacceptable to the council, a sub-let though the Youth Zone management at a nominal rent.
A Youth Zone spokesman described the situation as a “short term problem” which was being caused by the building work around the site.
She said: “Wigan Youth Zone rent a limited number of spaces from Wigan Cricket Club on Parson’s Walk for staff parking. We are aware of the problem of vehicles’ parking on the access road at the rear of our facility.
“This is a short term problem due to the on-going building work at Drumcroon and the new UTC building which is disrupting normal car-parking and delivery arrangements around the building.
“Wigan Youth Zone have access rights to the road as part of the site but we do not intend to use it for parking in the long term.”