Axminster ‘royal park’ plan moves forward

Town council holds ‘useful’ talks with land owners and the planning authority over the proposed ‘Jubilee field’

Plans to establish a major new recreation area in Axminster to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee took another step forward on Thursday.

Members of the town council met developers Betterment Homes and district council officials to discuss the handover of the former St Mary’s hospital field to the community.

Afterwards officials described the talks as “useful”.

Plans for what is likely to become “The Jubilee Field” include setting up a playground for children, of all ages, and an informal sports area, as well as leafy areas, with seats, where people can relax. Dogs would be banned from the entire site.

In a statement outlining the progress made at the meeting town clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said broad agreement was reached on a number of matters.

These included:

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* That as the town council did not wish to have a formally-laid-out football pitch there would be no need to level the site, as had been set out in the recent planning application to Devon County Council.

* That the footprint of the Local Equipped Area of Play (LEAP) should reflect the final footprint envisaged, even if the funding for equipment was insufficient at this stage to cover the whole area.

* That the consultations which took place prior to the construction of the Millwey Rise play area should be the basis for the selection of the items for the new LEAP.

* That in the interests of public health, the whole of the area would a dog-free zone.

* That the town council would seek advice and funding for the planting of 60 trees on the site, one to mark each year of Her Majesty’s reign.

It is hoped the field will be handed over for community later this year, with a target date of September 1.

For the first year responsibility for maintaining the field will remain with Betterment Homes, the current site owners, but after that a �29,000 endowment fund will be given to the district council to “drip feed” to Axminster town council, as necessary, for maintenance.

But town councillors are unhappy with this arrangement and say once the field comes under their control the entire sum should be given to them to use as they think fit.

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