Tuesday, 23 September 2014

'Lease of Public Open Space' - PART DEUX! The Return of the lease! WRITE BEFORE OCT 1ST

Looks like the council messed up the 'disposal of public space' lease we mentioned here last month, so they've had to re-advertise it & go through the process again!

Despite all of our letters of objection, they STILL GRANTED THE LEASE ANYWAY. Until we pointed out that they had failed to advertise the disposal for 2 consecutive weeks in the Maidenhead Advertiser as they are required to by law. They only did it for one week. 

This is the lease of an area of land in the Winbury School site to the Braywick Court School/Bellevue Place Education Trust, a piece of land that was previously for use by the public, it's the only fenced off part of grassland in the whole of Braywick Park which is dog free, includes some lovely apple trees, and links the Nature Reserve with the Park

There still hasn't been any planning application 
which (according to the drawings and plans they have shown so far) is a massive development on the Winbury site, taking over the Nature Centre - and building a new one in the middle of Braywick park.  

As they are re-advertising this lease, previous letters of objection are Null & Void so please write in again if you did before, and if not, if you object, please write in again! The deadline in October 1st. 

If you object, please write before 1 October to:

Emma-Jane Brewerton, 
Lawyer, Shared Legal Solutions at Wokingham Borough Council,
Civic Offices, 
Shute End, 
RG40 1WH

Thoughts on the lease that may be helpful if writing to object:

- No objection to the lease of the open space land to BPET were it to facilitate the opening of a school for up to 100 children which did not involve the loss of the Nature Centre.

- OBJECT to the lease of this la
nd to BPET to facilitate the opening of a 210 pupil school for the following reasons:

1.        No planning application has been submitted, much less approved, at this stage and thus it is considered premature to seek the disposal of the land. Given the admissions policy of the school, it is not considered that Bellevue Education Place Trust will be able to demonstrate very special circumstances to warrant development of the new school buildings in the Green Belt. It is understood that the Council is not advertising the public notice for the disposal of the open space outside the Nature Centre until after the planning application has been determined and therefore the same approach should be applied to the open space between the Nature Centre and the former WInbury School.

2.       The orchard area, which forms part of the open space the subject of the public notice, is
the only grassed, dog free area in the whole of Braywick Park. If anyone, especially those with small children, want to have a picnic, this is the one place they can go where there are no dog faeces. The Council knows all too well the problem of dog faeces on the playing pitches in Braywick Park. 

3.       In addition,
the orchard area was improved as part of Transforming Your Patch, a Groundwork project with funding from Britvic. There were a few apple trees in this area which were struggling; the two best trees were kept and the area around them was fenced in and grassed over. What is the reaction of Groundwork and Transforming Your Patch sponsors to the disposal of this land for the construction of a school building? Will Groundwork or the Council need to reimburse the funds obtained from the sponsor? Would Britvic have provided funding had it known the Council was going to turn around a few years later and dispose of the open space?

4.       The shrubs/brambles in the northern part of the open space the subject of the public notice are
a valuable area for wildlife, complementing the Local Nature Reserve (LNR) which is almost adjacent to the north.  The loss of this area will, in a small part, reduce the ecological value of the LNR.     

Given the strong feelings of local residents
regarding the disposal of this land to Bellevue Education Place Trust, we would request that the Head of Leisure Services (who, it is understood, has delegated powers to consider the objections) considers stepping aside and referring the matter to the Cabinet for decision (as it was the Cabinet who precipitously agreed to Braywick Court School in March of this year).  This is clearly an option as set out in paragraph 2.5 of Part 5, Scheme of Delegation to Officers.

FYI: Paragraph 2.5 states ‘Where any function is delegated to an officer, that officer may choose not exercise that function and may, instead, refer a matter to the Council, the Cabinet, Committee or relevant Portfolio Holder for decision as appropriate with the agreement of the appropriate Director’.

As the Council had put the previous notice for the disposal of open space in the paper for one week only (they are required to do it for two consecutive weeks), they have re-advertised the notice this past Thursday and will presumably do so again next week.  So letters of objections need to be in by the 1 October.  Any letters sent the last time are null and void so people need to send new letters.

Here's the notice in the Maidenhead Advertiser last week. Lucky we spotted it right?! Conveniently easy to miss? 

Close-up of the notice.

The area in red is the piece of land this particular lease relates to.