A proposal to build homes on Lytchett Drive and Sandford Way at Broadstone could still be on the cards, despite a huge amount of public opposition.
Following the decision by Poole’s Cabinet on 9th February to continue to assess the play area for housing local people turned out to protest.
They contended that the council was bound by the 1978 legal agreement to maintain the sites as public open space and a play area.
Subsequently Councillor Brooke took advantage of the Council’s call-in procedure to formally challenge this decision.
A meeting was arranged for Monday 7th March.
Councillor Brooke said there was a covenant which set aside the land as amenity space and informal play area. However, although the Council had signed the original agreement and maintained the land they had failed over the years to formally designate the site in its various plans as public amenity land. He added that head of planning services, Stephen Thorne confirmed the original agreement was still valid and that the land had in effect been treated as designated amenity space for the past 37 years.
Councillor Brooke said: “The chairman of call-in committee, Councillor Phil Eades, consequently proposed the land should be formally designated as public open space in the forthcoming review of Poole’s Core Strategy. When put to the vote there was a two – two split with one abstention. The chairman of the committee used his casting vote to ensure that Cabinet would be asked at their next meeting to approve the recommendation to designate the land as amenity open space.”
Councillor Brooke said at the time that it was a very good outcome for the residents but the Cabinet could disregard the recommendation.
When the Cabinet met on Tuesday 22nd March a large number of residents were present.
Mr Brooke said the portfolio holder made a brief statement which, in effect, dismissed the call-in committee’s recommendation and proposed the situation be further investigated.
Councillor Brooke said there was no further discussion and he raised a point of order which forced the vote. Cabinet voted unanimously to continue with investigations for suitability for development. Councillor Mike Brooke said afterwards: “This was absolutely unbelievable. Residents and local councillors were treated with contempt. Cabinet members did not even debate the issue and then voted like puppets. The decision had obviously been made before the meeting, behind closed doors. It is absolutely clear the land is amenity open space and that the legal agreement is still valid. This decision will waste officers’ time and tax payers’ money. They should accept what the agreement states – ‘no buildings houses or flats can be built on the land’.”
Resident Duncan Gooch, who has been living in the area for 10 years said: “We recognise the value of green space. We were disgusted that the results of the call-in meeting were just brushed aside. What was the point of it if the residents views were disregarded. The area is much valued by residents as it is the only space in the area where children can play safely.”
He said he felt that to continue to investigate the possibility of the housing was a waste of resource as there is a legal document identifying the area as green space.
“Many homes in the area are displaying Save our Green posters,” he added.
Councillor Karen Rampton, cabinet portfolio holder for housing and community services, Borough of Poole, said: “Cabinet wish to clearly establish the provenance of the informal space at Lytchett Drive before any further decisions are made about its future use. This would include reviewing any relevant documentation before the matter is returned to Cabinet at a later date for consideration.”
Marilyn Barber – Blackmore Vale Magazine