£1.9m bill to re­claim land for hous­ing

Herald Express - - Front Page - BY ED OLD­FIELD

TOR­BAY’S ‘green lung’ could sub­stan­tially shrink with the coun­cil set to do a deal with a coun­try­side trust to take back con­trol of land set aside for hous­ing, or risk los­ing a £3 mil­lion gov­ern­ment grant.

Coun­cil­lors voted to pay £1.9m to get back 10 acres of land at Pre­ston Down Road, Paignton, which it had leased to Tor­bay Coast and Coun­try­side Trust. The lease still has more than 40 years to run, but it was one of the sites iden­ti­fied by the Gov­ern­ment for a share of a £3m fund to get it ready for hous­ing.

The land is among sites set aside for hous­ing in the lo­cal plan, along with 45 acres at Lit­tle Blag­don Farm, at Col­la­ton St Mary, also on lease to the trust. The coun­cil is set to agree giv­ing the trust sim­i­lar land in ex­change for the farm.

The £3m grant was awarded to the author­ity in March on the con­di­tion the hous­ing land was pre­pared for sale by March 2020.

If the dead­line is missed, the money will have to go back.

TOR­BAY’S ‘green lung’ could sub­stan­tially shrink with the coun­cil set to do a deal with a coun­try­side trust to take back con­trol of land set aside for hous­ing, or risk los­ing a £3m gov­ern­ment grant.

Coun­cil­lors voted to pay £1.9 mil­lion to get back 10 acres of land at Pre­ston Down Road, Paignton, which it had leased to Tor­bay Coast and Coun­try­side Trust. The lease still has more than 40 years to run, but it was one of the sites iden­ti­fied by the Gov­ern­ment for a share of a £3m fund to get it ready for hous­ing. The land is among sites set aside for hous­ing in the lo­cal plan, along with 45 acres at Lit­tle Blag­don Farm, at Col­la­ton St Mary, also on lease to the trust.

The coun­cil is set to agree giv­ing the trust sim­i­lar land in ex­change for the farm, and it is un­der­stood it will agree to pay for the new land to be read­ied for or­ganic pro­duc­tion. The £3m grant was awarded to the author­ity in March on the con­di­tion the hous­ing land was pre­pared for sale by March 2020.

If the dead­line is missed, the money will have to go back.

Talks have been go­ing on this year about the two sites, but up to last Thurs­day’s coun­cil

The land on Pre­ston Down Road meet­ing, the two sides had been un­able to reach agree­ment.

Tor­bay mayor Gor­don Oliver went to the coun­cil to ask for chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Par­rock to be given pow­ers to start com­pul­sory pur­chase as a last re­sort. Coun­cil­lors re­jected that plan, and de­cided in­stead to back a pro­posal from the Con­ser­va­tive group to do the deal on the ba­sis of a £1.9m pay­ment and land-swap. It is es­ti­mated the sites would pro­vide 500 homes, in­clud­ing 150 af­ford­able units.

Tor­bay Coast and Coun­try­side Trust is a char­ity set up in the late 1990s to man­age more than 1,700 acres of pub­lic open space leased to it by Tor­bay Coun­cil. The trust warned the coun­cil that go­ing ahead with a CPO would dam­age their re­la­tion­ship and could even put the fu­ture of the trust at risk. It said a deal was close, but warned it would fight at­tempts to force it to sur­ren­der land.

Lit­tle Blag­don Farm was leased to the trust un­til 2059 to re­place land given up at Oc­combe for Sut­ton Seeds. The lost of the farm would “se­verely dam­age” the trust’s farm­ing op­er­a­tion and it wanted a suit­able re­place­ment.

Pre­ston Down Road

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