The Head of Resources provided an update to the Committee on the areas of the Land at Westacott – Public Consultation report which were not confidential or commercially sensitive.
The Head of Resources highlighted the following:
· North Devon Council owned the freehold of the land at Westacott, Westacott Road, Barnstaple.
· The owner of the adjacent land had approached the Council for permission to access their site over the Council’s land at Westacott in accordance with the outline planning consent. The land consisted of 2.5 acres and was currently used as Public Open Space.
· Within the North Devon and Torridge Local Plan 2011 – 2031 the land was identified as a site for a secondary access to BAR1.
· BAR1 was a site comprised of numerous plots of land with various owners and had been identified in the local plan to deliver 950 homes, with its main access from proposed roundabout at the Landkey junction.
· The Council had been successful in securing Housing Infrastructure Fund monies to help deliver the Landkey roundabout which formed the primary access to BAR1.
· The existing park covered an area of approximately 12,000 square metres. The plans showed that 1400 square meters of the existing park would be taken up by the road. An equivalent amount of informal open space would be replaced around the site of the proposed Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) and it was proposed that an additional informal open space would be provided in the form of a hill top park. It was proposed that a MUGA and junior sports pitch would be provided. A minimum of 10 pieces of play equipment would be provided (5 to replace the existing and 5 additional pieces). This would result in an overall net gain and increase of open space to approximately 27,000 square metres.
· Under section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 the Council had the power to dispose of land held by them but this was limited by subsection 2A “That the council may not dispose of Open Space unless before disposing of the land they cause notice of their intention to do so to be advertised in two consecutive weeks in a newspaper circulating in the area in which the land is situated, and consider any objections to the proposed disposal which may be made to them”.
· If the Committee agreed to go out to public consultation it was intended to advertise the potential disposal in the Gazette and North Devon Journal on the 20th and 27th May 2021 with closure for responses on 18 June 2021.
· The consultation responses together with all of the facts would be presented to the Committee at its meeting in July 2021 to consider.
In response to a question, the Estates Officer confirmed that the area of land consisted of 2.5 acres. The public open space would be managed by a management company and not owned by the Council.
Councillor Hunt (in her capacity as Ward Member) addressed the Committee.
Councillor Leaver (in her capacity as Devon County Councillor) addressed the Committee.
In response to questions, the Head of Resources advised the following:
· The advertisement was prescribed, however a separate press release would be issued setting out the facts and the reasons for the consultation. The draft press release could be shared with Ward Members prior to publication. The proposals for the public open space would be made clear and that the park would not be lost.
· 2 weeks consultation period was considered to be adequate as it was anticipated that the majority of consultation responses would be submitted promptly. This would allow 2 weeks for officers to collate the results.
In response to a question, the Chief Executive advised that it was a public site and that Members could visit the public open space, however Members needed to remember that the committee was not determining a planning application. If Members wished to visit, it should not be an organised visit.