New hope for green
CAMPAIGNERS have renewed hopes over the future of a green on Clothall Common. The green is back on the agenda for North Herts District Council as there is no prospective buyer for the land. Property developer Twigden Homes withdrew its application to buy
CAMPAIGNERS have renewed hopes over the future of a green on Clothall Common.
The green is back on the agenda for North Herts District Council as there is no prospective buyer for the land.
Property developer Twigden Homes withdrew its application to buy the land and Baldock residents now hope their petition to the council opposing the sale of the space and asking for it to be left as open space will be seriously considered.
They are going further by bidding to have it declared a a village green.
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Cathy Watts, secretary for the campaign group SOGS (Save Our Green Space), said: "The council could still sell the land. Obviously they stand to make a lot of money but I think they need to think in the long term.
"I know housing has to be built but I think it can be more considered. People are using this green space every day."
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A spokesperson for the council said: "NHDC owns that land and it's allocated in the current local plans for housing but there is no current planning application pending."
The site was formally identified for housing in 1984.
In addition to around 32 private residential units planned for the site, an estimated eight affordable housing units would be built.
The sale of the land stands to make in the region of £2 million and this sum has already been earmarked for council expenditure.
Failure to dispose of this asset means cuts in council spending must be made unless alternative funding sources are found - this could include an increase in council tax.
Baldock area committee will meet on Monday to discuss possible recommendations to put to Cabinet - due to meet in September.
The two main options are to continue to find a buyer for the land or to leave the common as an open space.
Mrs Watts said: "The field has been left green for more than 20 years which gives it the legal requirement for it to be made into a village green."
Regardless of the area committee's recommendations next week and the Cabinet's decision in September, SOGS will continue with an application to turn the land into a village green.
Paula Farrant, an active member of SOGS, said: "We will still persist with the application because this will give the land legal protection for life.
"A village green can never be built on whereas an open space can become building land again, when the council huddle together."
An inquiry has been fixed for October 9 to October 11.
Marilyn Kirkland, councillor for Baldock East, said: "I am whole-heartedly backing the campaign. People have been using the common for such a long time and it's such a great asset because we don't have many amenities up here.
"To have a village green where we can all get together would be great because we are a very close community."
The legal process to give land "village green" status can be expensive and SOGS is appealing for donations to help pay for a barrister.
Paula said: "We are raising money for a barrister because it is the ultimate decision time. NHDC are the only people opposing the village green now and we are hoping we can be successful."
To make a donation, send cheques payable to: Baldock village green to: the treasurer, Save Our Green Spaces, 3 Downlands, Baldock, SG7 6SY.