Report of the Chief Executive.
The Cabinet Member with the Resources Portfolio introduced the report of the Chief Executive (previously circulated) requesting that consideration be given to the disposal of 5.2 Hectares (13 acres) of land on the former Blackwell golf course, shown hatched on the plan at Appendix 1 (also previously circulated) and allocated as housing development land in the Local Plan; the funding of feasibility work to develop plans for a parkland restoration scheme, shown shaded grey on the plan at Appendix 1 (also previously circulated); and to engaging the services of Esh Homes Limited to develop appropriate plans and designs for a residential planning application for site 403.
The submitted report stated that the Council was planning to restore the historic parkland surrounding the Blackwell Grange Hotel; Council owned land of circa 5.2 hectares (13 acres) had been earmarked for residential development in the recently adopted Local Plan; a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), that had been commissioned to provide an overview and description of the heritage interest within and around the proposed allocated site 403, had supported its development; and that the sale of the land would fund the wider restoration of the parkland. It was also reported that Esh Homes Limited, the Council’s joint venture partner, would develop the Council owned land and proposals would be brought to Cabinet in due course; to facilitate this development surveys and feasibility work would be undertaken; and the feasibility works and parkland restoration proposals would be jointly procured by Esh Homes Limited and the Council, in compliance with the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.
Reference was made to the of advice of the HIA to retain the greenkeeper’s building at the southern end of site 403, however, as there was no opportunity for re-use of the building, its limited architectural value and its condition, it was proposed to demolish it in order to provide an acceptable access into the development.
Representations were made by Members and members of the public at the meeting in respect of the restoration of the parkland. Particular reference was made to the importance of the restoration of the parkland and requested assurances that the Local Plan would be referred to in its restoration due to the fact that it was the last Georgian pleasure park in the Borough, and that consideration be given to the establishment of a cross party Steering Group to guide the restoration, with input from the Community. Reference was also made to the demolition of the greenkeepers building, which was contrary to the HIA, and to where the access point was originally proposed for the site in the Local Plan; the integrity of the Local Plan; and the impact to the Council should it deviate from the Local Plan. The Cabinet Member with the Resources Portfolio responded thereon.
RESOLVED – (a) Thatthe land shown hatched on the plan at Appendix 1 to the submitted report, marked as 403, be declared surplus to the Council’s requirements and the sale of the land to the Council’s joint venture partner, with terms being reported back to Cabinet for consideration, be authorised.
(b) That the costs identified in Part III of the report, be approved, and the release of funding necessary to appoint Esh Homes Limited and for the Council to undertake the feasibility and landscape work required to submit a planning application, together with demolition of the former greenkeepers building, be authorised, subject to obtaining the necessary consents, the costs to be funded from the Council’s Investment Fund and to be paid back on receipt of a capital receipt from the proceeds of the sale.
(c) That the Assistant Director – Law and Governance be authorised to execute the necessary documents to facilitate future development.
REASONS – (a) To provide a site capable of contributing to the delivery of new housing to satisfy the Borough’s housing need and to facilitate the restoration of the parkland area.
(b) To achieve a capital receipt for the Council and increased Council Tax receipts from new homes.