Moves to overturn new car park decision fails
PUBLISHED: 11:00 10 June 2013
EFFORTS to overturn a decision to convert Grove Park tennis courts into a car park have failed, because council chiefs say they are 'desperate' to find more off-street parking.
The council plans to rip up the courts and if the move goes ahead, the authority will pay the Diocese of Bath and Wells £15,000 to relax a covenant which the land is subject to.
Although North Somerset owns the land, its conversion to car parking is still dependant on the covenant - which protects the land for recreational use - being relaxed.
During the council’s latest strategic planning and economic development panel meeting, the terms of the application were discussed.
Officers revealed that ripping out the courts would allow the car park to be extended by 90 spaces and the scheme’s income is likely to cover all set-up and operation costs in its first year, with an estimated profit of £75-125,000 in its second year.
Ward councillor John Crockford-Hawley, who along with Cllr Mark Canniford and Robert Payne, called in the decision to approve the application, said: “On-street pay-and-display has been largely successful in so far as the amount of spaces which are now free in the town centre. This is to the point where we never find the town centre on-street car parking facility taken up to the maximum level.
“I’m there almost on a daily basis and I have never seen Grove Park car park full. There is no need to extend the car park.”
If approved the council will also have to pay £1,000 per year to the diocese, which will be reviewed every five years.
Cllr Mark Canniford said: “As a governor of Weston College it has been keen to take on this facility to develop it.
“We could be jumping into something that would be of no benefit to the community when we go into this car parking issue and miss an opportunity.”
North Somerset deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees said: “The officers will agree that it (Grove Park) is often full to over-flowing.
“There are times when we are desperate to find off-street parking and this car park will become increasingly used over time.
“We need to get rid of that run down tatty space. The rest of Grove Park is really nice, and we have not got the funds for that area, so it really needs sorting out.”
Cllr Crockford-Hawley made a final bid for members to support another route for the site, but the majority rejected his idea.
A planning application will now be submitted to North Somerset for approval before the covenant can officially be lifted.