Row over Dronfield memorial bench

The memorial bench in tribute to Naomi Smith at Gosforth Playing Fields in Dronfield.
The memorial bench in tribute to Naomi Smith at Gosforth Playing Fields in Dronfield.
0
Have your say

Planning bosses claim a bench dedicated to the memory of a girl who died from cancer is harming locals’ ‘quality of life’.

A district council has demanded a tribute to teenager Naomi Smith in Gosforth Playing Fields, Dronfield, is moved because it does not have planning permission.

Naomi Smith, who died from  leukaemia in May 2011, aged 16.

Naomi Smith, who died from leukaemia in May 2011, aged 16.

Sports club bosses and businesses pulled together to put the bench in place two years ago after Naomi passed away from cancer aged 16.

The hand-engraved tribute has since become a place for people to go to reflect and pay their respects to the popular young sportswoman.

But North East Derbyshire District Council says it has recieved complaints the area is causing problems for those living near the fields.

Graham Bearder, of Gosforth Sports Association, said: “It has been there for two years now and to a lot of people that is where Naomi is. That place was chosen because it looks out on to the fields where she used to play football.

“People have a real connection with it. It has a story.

“It feels like asking for planning permission is a guise to make money.”

A council spokesman said: “The bench was originally placed at the foot of a residential garden, without planning permission, and young people were congregating causing a nuisance.

“We asked the sports committee to move the bench to a different location to help alleviate the problem, which to date has taken approximately 18 months.

“We are appreciative of the family wanting to have a bench in memory of their daughter, but we also have to balance this with local residents’ quality of life.

“We are in discussions with the association and have now agreed a new position for the bench so it is far enough away from properties as not to cause a nuisance, but also available for people to sit and remember.”