Lease for Wells Athletics Ground move questioned
QUESTIONS have been raised over the length of the lease offered for the new sports ground at Haybridge.
Councillors raised their concerns about the possible relocation of Wells Athletics Ground on Thursday, querying the length of the lease and sale of green space in the city.
A special presentation by Mendip District Council took place at Wells Town Hall, following the announcement that sports grounds may be moving to Haybridge.
District councillor Philip Ham and Mendip’s strategic assets manager, Keith Pennyfather, used the opportunity to answer questions about the move.
FREE WHEATGERM WITH EVERY POND HEATER www.blagdon-water-gardens.c...View details
Protect your pond fish this winter. Purchase the resun 100w pond heater £39.99 from www.blagdon-water-gardens.co.uk and we will give you a pot of Tetra wheatgerm 1l winter fishfood worth £4.99 FREE
Contact: 01934 316673
Valid until: Friday, February 28 2014
Councillor Maureen Brandon said: “The lease is only 60 years and these leases get complicated in time.”
Mayor Theo Butt Philip supported the notion that 60 years does not seem very long for a lease. The same view was aired by Councillor Gordon Wilson who said: “I have feelings of unease over exchanging freehold on the Athletics Ground for leasehold as well as more building in the city.”
Mr Pennyfather told the council the land was not available for freehold and a 60 year lease would be long enough. He explained that the rugby club and Sports Club would benefit from moving to a joint 30 acre site in Haybridge – but the only way to fund the move was to sell the freehold on both sites for development.
This was supported by Mr Ham: “If we don’t sell the land it won’t happen.” Some Wells councillors also raised concerns about the lack of green space inside the city.
Councillor Norman Kennedy said: “All that bothers me is that the land we will lose is the only open space within Wells with facilities. There’s nothing at the Recreation Ground.
“You are flogging off one thing to gain another. We need to look for other funding – we have no other open ground.”
This feeling of unease at the possible sale of the Athletics Ground, which is one of only a few green spaces in the city, was echoed by other members.
“I have mixed feelings. The teams need to be supported after all they are improving, which is great for the city.
“It seems to be urban sprawl which is extending, I’m all for the grounds for the clubs but I’m concerned about all the new houses in the city, we need jobs as well, not just houses,” said Councillor Chris Briton.
Wells Rugby Club bought 15 acres of land in Haybridge in a bid to move and expand the club, but due to a covenant on their existing ground, which states that the land can only be sold for the benefit of the whole community, Mendip gets half the money and the club and council have to work together.
Councillor John Osman, who is on both the city and district council as well as being the leader of Somerset County Council, said: “When I heard about the move I was quite sad, but I think the problem is our sports teams are too successful – they’ve outgrown the grounds.
“I think we should take the investment while we can because it won’t be there again if we don’t.
“There are other green spaces in Wells, Hawker’s Lane, the Cathedral Green and the Recreation Ground.”
The sports clubs at the athletics ground and the rugby club have been consulted about the move and are interested in exploring the idea further.
Mr Pennyfather added: “The clubs have a choice. The move will only happen if they are happy with the outcomes.”