Disused tennis courts at Collings Park in Higher Compton are to be turned into a community garden, thanks to a community asset transfer by the Council.
Councillor Chris Penberthy is today (Friday) signing off a decision to transfer the freehold of the land to the Collings Park Trust, a local community group.
The land had been declared surplus to requirements and earmarked as a possible location for housing development under the city’s Plans for Homes agenda.
Councillor Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Housing, whose portfolio includes community asset transfers said: “We had originally looked at this as somewhere to build homes, but after meeting the association and ward councillors felt they had valid concerns about the loss of green space as well as parking and access.
“We listened and were prepared to see what ideas they could come up with to give this land back to the people living around it. Encouraging people to own assets – whether it’s a building or land helps strengthen the local community and bring people from different backgrounds together. Helping this to happen is what being a cooperative council is about.
The proposed land transfer also fits the city’s goal of being more pioneering as it delivers a community service, ie a garden at no cost to the Council tax payer and also helps instils a sense of environmental and social responsibility in that neighbourhood, he said.
Collings Park Trust, a newly-registered charity, used to be known as the Collings Park Association, which was set up in the 1990s. The trust plan to buy the site for £17,450 and create a garden that is open to all local residents.
Andrew Leigh from the Trust said: “This is great news. This part of the park has been looking pretty forlorn for several years. We want to create something special for everyone including a forest school for children, a sensory garden, an orchard, places for growing as well as a wildlife corridor. it has been good working with the Council. They have been co-operative and have listened to the residents.”
Councillor Penberthy added: “Part of our Plan for Homes is to have a discussion with the people living near suggested sites and to look at the pros and cons of providing homes there. In this case someone came forward with an idea for the site which enables all to enjoy it.
“Our housing shortage will not go away and we still need around 1,000 new homes every year, we will carry on looking at possible sites and speaking to residents.”
The decision is being made under delegated authority and is subject to call in by scrutiny.