A DOG owner says the closure of a park where locals used to go for walks is 'killing the community'.

Jacqui Venvell, 50, has complained to the developer of the Heyford Park estate near Bicester – Dorchester Group – since the community dog park was closed on April 1 for building to commence.

However, despite its closure, the grass has been cut several times and more than two months on, work is yet to start.

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Ms Venvell says the park was a great way for people in the new estate near Bicester to socialise with each other, but its closure is killing the community.

She said: “It was a very good place for people who were new to the area to get to know everyone. It was also a great way for those who wanted to walk their dogs who aren’t good with open spaces.

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“We even have a Heyford Park Dog Walking Facebook group where we’d all discuss our weeks - it was a community thing.

“The marketing team say their aim is to bring the community together, but they’ve actually killed it.”

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Residents at Heyford Park now have a new temporary dog park to use, which Ms Venvell says is 'the size of an average back garden', and is not big enough for the 80-85 dog walkers who live at the estate.

She said: “The temporary park is the size of my back garden - it’s not big enough. The original park also allowed people who are less able to walk to get out of their house.

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“I think this is an absolute disgrace and Dorchester Group are not listening to what the residents want.”

The new temporary park is located near residents’ homes which has sparked contention between residents and dog walkers.

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Marc Thielke, from Heyford Park Residents’ Association, said: “People who bought homes thought they were going to have a private green space and did not expect a dog park to open, so there’s been some conflict between dog walkers and residents.”

Mr Thielke has spoken to Dorchester Group about the situation and let them know about the concerns the homeowners have.

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He said residents would have liked to have spoken to Dorchester Group before the new temporary dog park was opened, so that they could inform them of the kinds of things the residents liked about the original park.

A spokesman from Dorchester Group said: “We worked closely with the local community to provide a temporary dog park, which opened in 2016, on the understanding that this would not be a permanent fixture because the area was designated for future development."

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He went on to explain that there had been delays to the start of new housebuilding on the temporary dog park site because of negotiations with Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council about community funding, but he added: "We will be starting work as soon as possible, which is why the area has been closed.

“In the meantime we have tried to provide an alternative area for dog walking until the next areas of public open space are delivered. Whilst this new area is not as large as the original dog walking park, we are restricted by various development and ecological constraints."

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