Blocking sale of land could hit town plans – councillor

PUBLISHED: 16:27 05 October 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 May 2010

PLANS to improve a town centre are under threat and cuts to services are possible if a piece of land earmarked for development is not sold, according to a senior councillor. North Herts District Council plans to sell a piece of land off Yeomanry Drive, Cl

PLANS to improve a town centre are under threat and cuts to services are possible if a piece of land earmarked for development is not sold, according to a senior councillor.

North Herts District Council plans to sell a piece of land off Yeomanry Drive, Clothall Common, Baldock, despite persistent opposition from campaign group SOGS (Save Our Green Space) and a recommendation from the council's own Baldock area committee to keep the land as an open space.

The sale of the land stands to make in the region of £2m and this sum has already been earmarked for council expenditure.

NHDC's portfolio holder for finance, Cllr Terry Hone, said: "It's very important that we dispose of this land because then we will have some of the funds to finance projects which include the Baldock town centre."

He added: "If the land is not sold there will be a shortage of £2m in the council's budget.

"In all probability there would not be a rise in council tax but in all seriousness there would have to be a cut in services and new programmes.

"The people who will go without are those who use amenities such as sports clubs and playgrounds.

"In general I certainly support SOGS and what they actually stand for but this piece of land is building land and always has been."

NHDC claims the land was formally identified for housing in 1984.

The field has been left green for more than 20 years which gives it the legal requirement for village green status.

SOGS are campaigning for this status and, if successful, the land will be afforded legal protection and can never be built on.

As the council prepares to battle with SOGS at an inquiry, Paula Farrant, an active member of SOGS, has accused the council of scaremongering.

She said: "In everyday life every one of us has to manage our own budgets, juggling a bit here and a bit there and we don't have to be professional accountants to do it.

"£2m is a very small percentage of the council's total budget."

She added: "Baldock residents have used this particular field for 50 years or more.

"It stands between a gate from our local primary school and a busy road.

"It is also a place of play and leisure for anyone who wishes to use it."

The council says an estimated £10,000 of tax payers' money will be spent on the council's legal representation at the inquiry, due to be held some time in November.


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