Chairman’s Statement

The council has been working since inception to solve the issue of the Orchards and other areas intended for community use. Letters sent to the freeholder, P J Livesey, have always received a polite but negative response.

At our first annual parish meeting, our MP Alistair Burt promised to broker a meeting on these and issues affects major defects at Fairfield Hall. This he did and there followed two meetings both attended by P J Livesey representatives. However, at neither meeting was the outstanding issues properly discussed -largely through the non-attendance of the other freeholder Hotbed Investments.

Inbetween times FPC has been keeping up the pressure on CBC to find a solution. We also asked for a licence to carry out important maintenance work on their part of the orchard.

In January this year FPC received notice from P J Livesey that they were submitting a pre-plan application for housing on land they own between Fairfield Mews and East Lodge on Eliot Way. The company asked for a meeting with FPC to discuss this. This was out of courtesy on their part as under statute they have no requirement to do so.

We agreed providing the question of the area of Orchard under their ownership was also on the agenda. At the meeting the company outlined their plans for the development but when it came to discussion on the Orchard we were told: “In P J Livesey view we have two building plots. End of discussion.”

During the summer months we have notified P J Livesey of our proposal to complete a parish and neighbourhood plan. We have given him the results of the neighbourhood and parish plan questionnaire that includes details of the voting to make the areas “local greenspace” and, also, our request to CBC to consider a Compulsory purchase order on the land.

In October, they asked for a further meeting with us that took place last month. At this meeting they not only showed outline proposals for their scheme in Eliot Way but showed proposals for the planning application that is the subject of tonight’s meeting. This caught us totally by surprise.

At that meeting their representatives stated that Mr Livesey was prepared to “gift” (their word not ours) the remaining Orchard land if his applications were successful. To this end we were presented with a draft contract plus also a draft licence so that work can be carried out this dormant period.

By the look on their faces they seemed to expect us to sign both documents on the spot. They were firmly told they would be referred to our legal advisors.

Subsequently, both planning applications were submitted to CBC. The one before us tonight has been accepted but the one for the other, and larger development has yet to be ratified. Until it has we cannot discuss it but there will be a similar meeting tonight once it is on the table.

Since the meeting with P J Livesey representatives, and following written representations by FPC, the company has agreed that their proposed ‘gift’ applies only to acceptance of the 18 houses in Eliot Way and not the application being discussed tonight.

Our solicitors are happy with the licence but currently are not happy with the contract and negotiations are in progress over this.

So to make absolutely clear there has been no back door deal done with the company. As it is CBC who is the planning authority, not FPC, none could be.