Tennis court car park plan held up by church

PUBLISHED: 12:30 04 May 2012

Archant

PLANS by North Somerset Council to turn Weston tennis courts into a car park have hit a snag - because the church which has final say over the use of the site has refused permission.

The news is contrary to what was written as part of a council report last month, which said the authority has been given the green light by the diocese to use the Grove Park courts, off Lower Church Road, on a two-year trial basis.

Although the council owns the land it is subject to a church covenant, which means its former owner, the Diocese of Bath and Wells, has a veto over how it is used.

A report last month stated the extension of Grove Park car park into the adjacent tennis courts would be approved ‘subject to agreement from the diocese who wish the agreement to be on a trial basis, for a minimum of two years’.

But an email from a spokesman for the diocese, read out at North Somerset Council’s policy and scrutiny panel meeting on Monday, refuted the report.

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley read out the email, which said: “We were rather disturbed to hear that at the church AGM a paper was mentioned at the meeting advising that North Somerset was still pursuing a two-year experimental period for the car park, subject to consent from the diocese.

“North Somerset approached our land agent with the initial request for a free one-year experimental period and then came back asking for two years.

“This request was refused. At no time had the board agreed to an experimental period.

“North Somerset was also advised that there is a great deal of local opposition to the car park scheme and very little financial incentive for the board to release the covenant.

“I would reiterate that at this moment in time the diocese has not agreed to an ‘experimental period’ in any shape or form.”

A council officer at the meeting said: “We own that land. We were trying to be constructive but we could have the covenant removed. That is not an option we wanted to take initially but it is something that could be done.”


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