Campaigners suffer setback in park plan
5:00am Monday 4th August 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
A campaign group has expressed frustration over the length of time it is taking to get Lydiard House listed as a Community Asset.
The Lydiard Fields Action Group applied more than 18 weeks ago for Lydiard House, along with the park and adjacent Greendown Copse, to be given the status.
It acts as a symbol of how important the house is and should the council ever choose to sell, the community would be given the first opportunity to buy it.
But confusion has emerged over whether it is possible to put three sites under one status. The group said it offered to put in separate applications but was told the council needed to seek legal advice.
Group chairman Bev Cejer said: “The main problem appears to be that we asked for the park, house and adjacent Greendown Copse to be considered in one application.
“We asked the council to let us know if our application to register these three linked assets in one application would cause any difficulties, so that we could amend it accordingly.
“But instead, our application was simply rejected on a technicality and we were told we should not make a further application until the council had received legal advice on whether we could make one application for the three linked assets.
“There can be little doubt that Lydiard House, Park and Greendown Copse are all well-loved community assets, currently in council ownership.”
The Community Asset Scheme was introduced by the Government as a way of giving local people a say in how their communities are run but the process has left members of the group disillusioned.
Bev said: “It has already wasted vast amounts of the community’s time and resources and now seems to be wasting scarce public resources.
“It has also become clear that even if we succeed in getting the house, copse and park registered, it does not in reality provide much protection for these assets for the future. Sadly our experience of Localism is that it is costly for everyone and achieves very little.”
A council spokesman said: “The Lydiard Fields Action Group submitted two applications to list Lydiard House and Park as an asset of community value, but neither were completely compliant with the legal requirements and could not go ahead.
“We are aware the group intends to re-submit its application, but before that happens we need clarification as to whether the whole property should be included in a single application.
“We have asked one of the nationally acknowledged legal experts in this field for advice to make sure that we get this right. We expect to have the advice by the end of this month.”