Dispute delays Jubilee Field plan

PUBLISHED: 08:19 20 November 2013 | UPDATED: 08:19 20 November 2013

A dispute over money is delaying work on creating Axminster's Jubilee Field. Photo by Chris Carson

A dispute over money is delaying work on creating Axminster's Jubilee Field. Photo by Chris Carson


Developers and council clash over who foots the bill for Axminster play area

A “difference of opinion” over money is threatening to further delay the opening of Axminster’s long-awaited Jubilee Field.

It had been hoped that work to turn the former St Mary’s hospital land into a leafy park and play area would finally get under way this summer.

But nearly 18 months after the nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s reign – to which the project is being dedicated – the site remains an overgrown area used mostly by dog walkers.

Developers Betterment Homes, who own the land, agreed to hand it over to the town as part of their section 106 agreement after receiving planning consent from East Devon District Council for the neighbouring Duke’s Way housing scheme.

In line with their obligations they have had some three designs drawn up for the required children’s play area so local youngsters can chose the one they want.

But Betterment say there is now some dispute over how much they are required to give the district council towards the scheme.

Director John Loosemore told The Herald that Betterment believed their requirement was to provide £36,000 to cover the cost of the complete play area package, including fences etc.

But the council was now saying the £36,000 was only for play equipment and Betterment need to stump up more cash to cover the ancillaries.

“We do have some disagreement on the interpretation of the planning obligation,” said Mr Loosemore. “Our understanding, which has been confirmed by our solicitors, is that the £36,000 was for the complete package. As far as I am concerned the ball is now in their (EDDC) court.”

A spokesman for EDDC said: “We can confirm that there is currently a difference of opinion between the council and the developer over the detail of the agreement. We will be asking local children to choose their preferences for play equipment once the legal issue has been resolved.”

It is understood that if the dispute is settled soon work on the Jubilee Field could begin next summer.

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