Potton petition demands £42,000 pitch money back from Biggleswade

Cala Homes has contributed £42,000 to a 3G pitch project in Biggleswade, but now wishes to help fund

Cala Homes has contributed £42,000 to a 3G pitch project in Biggleswade, but now wishes to help fund one in Potton instead. Stock photo. Credit: Weloc - Credit: Archant

A petition has been launched demanding £42,000 of sports pitch funding be transferred back from Biggleswade to Potton.

The money was set aside as part of a section 106 agreement attached to Cala Homes’ planning application for 90 houses off Potton’s Sandy Road, in which the developer agreed to contribute £42,000 for “provision and improvement of sports, playing pitch and 3G facilities” at King’s Reach in Biggleswade.

Since Central Beds Council approved the planning application in September last year, Potton Colts FC and the town’s middle and lower schools have started work to bring a 3G pitch to Potton – but the council has refused Cala Homes’ request that the money go towards this £250,000 project instead.

In a reply to Cala Homes, Central Beds Council said that as the Potton initiative was “not seeking to meet Sport England/FA requirements in terms of pitch specification and size”, it would “not be addressing the identified requirement for a 3G pitch in the A1/Biggleswade area”.

A spokesman for Potton Colts FC told the Comet: “We have worked tirelessly over the past few months to ensure our planned facility meets the needs of all in Potton, and Central Beds Council confirmed that this project would be within the delivery plan for the area and attract developers’ contribution through section 106 monies.

“Therefore we are extremely disappointed to hear that sports projects in Biggleswade are now attracting section 106 money from developers not only in Biggleswade, but also Potton.

“Surely any developers’ money from developments in Potton should stay in Potton. Therefore we are petitioning that this money is reallocated to our town.”

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Under section 106 agreements, developers give money towards community projects such as roads and halls to cater for the impact of building. A central condition is that initiatives funded must be “directly related to the development”.

Potton Town Council and ward councillor Adam Zerny have backed the call for the Cala Homes section 106 money to go to the Potton pitch – and Mr Zerny says Cala could potentially demand their money back.

Mr Zerny said: “There is a great sports project proposed in Potton, and I consider Central Beds Council’s reasons not to reallocate the money to be mere excuses. The council could simply reallocate it in accordance with everyone else’s wishes. I urge everyone to sign the petition.

Councillor Adam Zerny of Central Bedfordshire Council and Potton Town Council. Picture: Archant

Councillor Adam Zerny of Central Bedfordshire Council and Potton Town Council. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

“I believe Central Beds Council’s refusal to allocate the money to Potton risks losing the money completely, given the developer could say they do not wish the money to go to a project which is not directly affected by their development.”

The Potton petition can be signed at Cameron’s in Market Square or at the town’s BP garage in Biggleswade Road.

A Central Beds Council spokeswoman said in response: “Central Beds Council feels that the Biggleswade sports facility is the best use of the section 106 money and will give the greatest gains for the local community, including Potton residents, as it will have greater facilities.

“It is for Central Beds Council to assess and evidence how section 106 money is secured as part of negotiations with developers and then delivered through these agreed legal obligations.”