At last night’s (Monday 27 July) Extraordinary Meeting of the Town Council Councillors voted to proceed with taking on the responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), the Play area and the Public Open Space in return for a commuted sum of £32,000 from developers GreenSquare.
They will also be taking over the freehold of these spaces, thus bringing this area under control of the Town Council.
Agreement of the sum has taken some time to negotiate. What was originally offered was far lower than the eventual sum agreed, but this was complicated by the fact that no Section 106 levy was possible as the land sold to the developer was part-owned by Wiltshire Council and as such it would have been illegal for the Council to take Section 106 money. Hence the developer didn’t budget for this outcome.
“The decision by Marlborough Town Council to take on the responsibility for the ongoing upkeep of the Public Open Space in the water meadow, the MUGA and the surrounding landscaped areas of the new development is probably the right one.” said resident Jayne Baker, who has been at the forefront of campaigning about this development from the very start. “It means that residents will know who to contact if there are problems with the upkeep of these areas in the future.”
“The way Wiltshire Council has handled the sale of this land has been very disappointing” she added, noting that regarding the Section 106 (or lack of) funding: “Surely, as Wilts Council are ‘the experts’ in planning decisions and processes, they should have been aware of this loophole and put something into place to secure an appropriate payment to our Town Council and not passing the costs onto residents who didn’t want this development in the first place.”
However, this doesn’t mean that either the Play Area, the MUGA or Public Open Space is to be made ready for public use in the near future. The Play Area, MUGA and compensatory open space will come first, on the first occupancy of the site before the whole development is completed but the landscaped area (on the opposite side) won’t be useable until all houses and infrastructure are in place and finished.