Land kitch over youth project

PUBLISHED: 11:33 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:30 15 June 2010

DESPITE gaining £160,000 from the sale of Exeter Airport, the building of a youth centre in Colyton has been delayed because part of the proposed site no longer belongs to the parish.

DESPITE gaining £160,000 from the sale of Exeter Airport, the building of a youth centre in Colyton has been delayed because part of the proposed site no longer belongs to the parish.The application was put forward last spring, but it has recently come to light that the area of land at Peace Memorial Playing Field was in fact sold in 2002.Parish councillor and Reece Strawbridge Youth Centre trustee and management committee chairman Paul Arnott discovered from Land Registry documents that the site was transferred. The parish council then paid £24,000 to landowners for the playing field extension. Mr Arnott said the transfer had been signed by former chairman Bob Collier, and believed it to be at a financial loss to the council. He argued a patch of land crucial to further planning applications for housing development on Dare and Dare Bazley (DDB) land, could be worth up to £100,000.He said: "It was a terrible deal for the parish. Some people would argue the parish was desperate to get hold of the land to finish the playing fields. But, if someone had sought legal advice and had a tougher attitude, we never would have given it away for that price."The youth centre, which is expected to cost over £500,000, will replace the youth club, provide a nursery and be used by the Scouts. Mr Arnott believes it was fortunate he spent many hours investigating to check the land was 'kosher'. "We were surprised nobody told us that we don't own the land," he said. "It could have had a very expensive and damaging effect on our planning application. It could have shot our credibility."Luckily, I discovered it. However, the planning application could have been in by now. This has definitely delayed it." But he said he is determined to press on: "This should have been a positive move. It's supported by the people and this revelation shouldn't hold us back. We just have to get on with it - we have no alternative. But we have lost about 10 metres of land and have to bring our building 10 metres into this car park, which will cost more money."During the parish council meeting last Monday, chairman Andrew Parr said an original agreement had been made in 1996 but, by 2002, the strip of land possibly no longer had the same value. He said: "Perhaps with hindsight the parish council should have tried to re-negotiate this term in 2002. It was obviously a valuable strip to DBB in that it potentially allowed for two or three more houses on their plot of land."However, at the time, the council was concentrating on getting the lottery funding and starting on the buildings, which took hours of painstaking meetings and discussions."He said it was sorry the matter arose as it did, and wanted to apologise to Bob Collier and Eric Platts - who signed documents to buy the DBB land. He conceded no documents or originals of the documents had been kept and that lessons should be learned from it.Cllr Bob Collier said: "I have nothing to add. "It is done and dusted as far as I'm concerned.

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