A Village Green for Leigh?

Residents will recall the Parish Poll held in June 2017 to ascertain the views of the Leigh electorate on the question ‘Do you support the concept of a community open space for Leigh?’.  In a 40.4% turnout, 117 voted ‘Yes’, and 57 voted ‘No’.  Leigh Parish Council subsequently engaged with the owner of the 4 acre field adjacent and immediately to the West of the Village Hall, but was later advised by the owner’s agent that it was not at that stage for sale.

More recent enquiries however have now resulted in the owner provisionally agreeing to the sale of a 99 year lease to LPC, subject to an undertaking by LPC as to its intended use.  As publicised prior to the Parish Poll, LPC envisages a mowed grass area, for use as an open space that anyone could enjoy for short term occasional activities such as village events, picnics, informal family games and other such activities that families without access to a suitable garden might otherwise not be able to enjoy.  This c.2 acre village green would be established on the northern end of the field, adjacent to the road; the section to the south would remain as agricultural land.

The cost of purchase of the 99 year lease is expected to be £30,000.  It is estimated that up to a further £15,000 will be required to cover purchase costs, fencing and preparation of the ground etc.  LPC accordingly intends to apply for up to a £40,000 fixed rate loan for a period of up to 20 years (the remaining £5,000 coming from currently unallocated reserves).  At current rates, it is expected that the combined principal and interest repayment for a £40,000 loan would be c.£2502 pa.  Other than annual inflation-linked increases, there is no requirement or intention to increase the Parish Charge to cover this (Band D parish charge for FY 2018-19 is £36.84 per annum).

LPC will be formally considering the issue at its next scheduled meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 19 March; further details will be on the agenda.  There will be an opportunity for Leigh parish’s electors to discuss the issue with Councillors before the start of the meeting; the Village Hall doors will accordingly be open from 7.00pm.

Alan Bennett

Chairman, Leigh Parish Council