Agreement has been reached over the long-term future of the East Orchard, much of the West Orchard, the tennis court, the junior football pitch at the rear of the Community Hall plus other areas of land on Fairfield.
The freeholder, Hotbed Investments, has agreed to transfer ownership of the land to Fairfield Parish Council.
The deal will avert the fear the Parish Council expressed last September of compulsory purchase orders for land clearly identified for community purposes in the Fairfield Master Plan.
As well as the areas named above, Hotbed has agreed to transfer the footpath that runs alongside the school and goes down to the West Orchard; the disused roadway that goes from Hardy Way to the edge of the school playing field; the area of land that fronts the balancing pond between Kinglsey Avenue and Eliot Way and the triangle of land that fronts East Lodge on the corner of Eliot Way and Hitchin Road.
This leaves the western end of the West Orchard as the only community area not in direct control of either the parish council or a management company. This area is the subject of separate negotiations with freeholder P J Livesey.
While the transfer will be at nil land cost, the terms of the transfer will see the Parish Council paying both sides legal fees. There is also a condition that if any of the areas later become subject to development the freehold will revert back to Hotbed Investments. This “reversion” clause is not uncommon.
Both sides are now instructing solicitors to act for them to conclude the transfer. As new boundaries will have to be agreed this will involve the Land Registry and, as a result, the deal could take several months to finalise.
In the meantime Hotbed has agreed to allow the council to do essential work on the Orchards and we will also continue to maintain the grassed area behind the community centre.
The Parish Council has also come to agreement with Central Bedfordshire Council as to the outstanding issues regarding the s.106 Agreement for the areas. This will involve no cost to Hotbed, but will involve expense from the local council tax. However, this is not a vast sum according to provisional estimates.
If you want to see what areas are involved please download the land registry plan that has been used during negotiations. On this plan the areas to be transferred are numbered 2a, 2b, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 13.
Once concluded it will bring to an end discussions that were started by two residents with CBC way back in January 2011 and then taken up by the Parish Council on its formation in April 2013.
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