Special Report - Green Open Spaces In Chapel House and Chapel Park

February 2, 2011 8:02 AM

A lot of unnecessary concern has been stirred up about the future of several open spaces in the area. The council has confirmed that were never any decisions to commit all or even a part of the land at the Parkway for housing. Once it became clear that the Roman Catholic Diocese was interested in the site for a possible expansion for St John Vianney School, then that became the priority for the future and it is safeguarded for that purpose.

The former Chapel Park Middle School site is still education land, and the view is that the fence around it will remain until a decision for the long-term use of the land is made. If the fence is removed then it will become leisure land with considerable maintenance costs.

Speaking in the Council chamber the Leader of Council David Faulkner said, "Yes, I am aware, of course, that the future of the former Chapel Park Middle School site has been the subject of considerable interest from some local residents for many months. There have been reports to the Ward Committee and correspondence with the Chapel Park Residents Association which I believe has made the Council's position clear. Leisure Services does not have any scope to increase its maintenance budget to take on the site as public open space. In addition the capital cost of simply taking the railings down will be over £25,000 and with additional infrastructure such as paths, lighting, planting, seating etc which would no doubt be expected to bring the space up to a reasonable standard for public open space, this cost would rise significantly.

In short these additional capital and revenue costs simply cannot be justified in the current financial situation that the Council is facing. I understand that the Westerhope ward members also felt, quite understandably, that they would not be able to meet these costs from their Ward budget.

Finally, there appears to be a persistent perception that the Council has the site lined up for development and that there are developers sniffing around. This is not the case. Before any decision on the long term future of the site can be taken a review of all possible options, including financial implications, will have to be undertaken and this piece of work has not been done. No developers have approached the Council regarding the site.

I think it is also worth pointing out that should the Middle School site become public open space it may well affect the Council's ability to resist proposals for development on other green spaces in the area on the grounds of lack of open space in the Ward. This tells us to be careful of what we wish for."

On the Chadderton Drive field which is owned by Bellway. The council received an application to register the land as a Town and Village Green and this has been consulted upon.