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Playground plan dropped in favour of football

Times Echo and Life / All News / Playground plan dropped in favour of football
4 years, 20 days ago1 Comment.
14 JUN

Playground plan dropped in favour of football

By timesecholife on in All News, Latest News

A £50,000 fund for play equipment at a Cheadle recreation ground is to be diverted to sports facilities at the other end of town.

(Pictured: Ian Whitehouse accepts a donation for the annual Churchill Road Festival from Peter Wilkinson, at Churchill Road Rec)

Residents and councillors have slammed the move by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC), which was uncovered at a meeting last week.

Cllr Peter Wilkinson accused the council of misleading the public, while town council member Ian Whitehouse said people in Cheadle had been ‘let down’ by the decision.

The £50,000 was agreed as part of a Section 106 agreement – a legal document which outlines financial contributions to public projects as part of housing development schemes.

At a meeting of the district council’s finance and resources committee last week, Cllr Wilkinson put forward a question regarding the use of the Section 106 money in relation to the development of 36 bungalows at Turner’s Pasture in Cheadle.

When the scheme was approved in June 2015, John Wren, acting as agent for developer Mike Ward, told a meeting of SMDC’s planning applications committee: “A financial contribution of over £50,000 will be made towards improvements at Churchill Road recreation ground.

“We now have a scheme that I think the area can be proud of.”

The amount and the use of the money was included in an informative document supporting the planning permission, but when the Section 106 agreement was created, the money was earmarked for use in ‘open spaces in Cheadle.

The situation was discovered by Cllr Wilkinson last week. He said: “Basically I put a question to the leader, Sybil Ralphs, asking the council to confirm when and where the Section 106 money will be spent for Turner’s Pasture.

“When I checked on the planning approval there was an informative on there saying that the S106 agreement will include a financial contribution from the developer to Churchill Road recreation ground.

“On the planning permission the information is there telling the officer who formulates the S106 that’s where the money should go.

“When they’ve drawn the S106 agreement up they changed the contribution and made it more broad-based so it can go towards open space in Cheadle.

“I’m not happy with what’s going on and to be honest I’m still making enquiries as to who the officer is and why they ignored the informative by making the S106 agreement more broad-based than it should’ve been.

“That’s allowing SMDC to spend that money elsewhere.

“That money should be ring-fenced for Churchill Road recreation ground. Turner’s Pasture is on the perimeter of the recreation ground so any children living in the new houses are not going to play at Thorley Drive or Tean Road.

“The public thought the money was going to Churchill Road rec. I’m not happy that the planning permission was granted with the understanding that the money will be spent on Churchill Road rec and then the money is not going to be spent there.

“I’m not happy because I feel I’ve been misled and the public have been misled – surely when the officer formulates the S106 agreement they should go with what’s been agreed in the public meeting?

“Churchill Road recreation ground is right on the edge of this development and I think we all believe the money should go there.

“The rec needs new play equipment and changing rooms. It needs investment, so it does raise the question as to whether there’s a future for the rec there.”

Town councillor and volunteer for the Churchill Road Festival, Ian Whitehouse, also slammed the move. He said: “There are 100 or so houses set to be built at Thorley Drive, so surely the Section 106 money from that should pay for the drainage of the football field?

“It’s totally letting people down.

“At the festival on Saturday people were so disgusted, it’s unbelievable.

“I’ve been trying for three years to get something done on Churchill Road rec and we thought this S106 money was just the thing to get a project started.

“Every event we have, we have to hire toilets, there are junior football teams playing there with no toilet facilities – it’s ridiculous.

“Thorley Drive belongs to the district council so they should maintain it, not take money away from our area.

“Everybody in the Churchill Road area thought the pay off for the houses was the improvements to the park. Everybody was looking forward to it.

“The houses are nearly complete and people have been asking what the plans are and what are we going to do down there.

“There are seven district councillors representing Cheadle, so I hope all those seven will be supporting the people in the Churchill Road area.”

In response to Cllr Wilkinson’s question and in reply to an enquiry by the Times and Echo, a spokesman for SMDC said: “The council is yet to receive the section 106 money from the Turners Pasture development.

“There are two trigger points for the release of the sums from the developer.

“The first of these triggers is on occupancy of the first home on the development, the second after the 18th house is occupied. As far as we are aware no home is yet being used.

“Use of the cash will be consistent with the original draft unilateral declaration made by the developer when the initial planning application was submitted, on 11 February 2015, and in accordance with the Deed of Variation signed on 25 May 2018.

“Both of these documents dictate use of the money will be for the cost of maintaining open space in Cheadle.

“The signed variation also provides for an additional £3,600 for town centre improvements.

“The intention is to use the larger of the two contributions towards the much needed improvements to the sports pitch drainage system at Thorley Drive, which qualifies as maintenance under the agreement.

“When the cash is in the bank we would like to work with the town council regarding the £3,600 and indeed the larger sum if it can be used as leverage funding to make wider improvements, notwithstanding Thorley Drive is our first priority.”

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1 Comment

  • The Thorley rive football pitch is nothing but a mill stone, it will just gobble up money.
    Written by M. Farmer, June 15, 2018 - Reply

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