Haverfordwest castle village green status could cost £20,000
12:02pm Friday 20th September 2013 in News
THE fight to keep Haverfordwest castle grounds ‘for the people’ could cost an overall total of well over £20,000 town councillors have said.
Haverfordwest Town Council is currently trying to secure village green status for the land owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which is opposing the application, and it could cost the town purse £10,000 - as well as costing the local authority a similar amount.
Cllr Peter Lewis told town councillors last week “many people were wondering why they [the county council] are spending thousands stopping it being open to the public”.
“They applied for open space status in 2009, why have they changed their minds so dramatically? Now they’re cutting it dead and they’re not telling us why.” he added.
The town council is determined to keep the castle grounds, an ‘iconic’ part of the town ‘free for public use’.
“Even if it’s going to cost a great deal of this council’s money,” said Cllr Lewis.
It has made an offer of £50,000 for the former prison building and remains ‘bemused’ at the County Council’s refusal to sell if, as the town council has been told, developer Keith Griffiths has withdrawn his interest in the site.
“The council hides its intentions behind a veil that they call commercial confidentiality. Is the developer only trying to fool us and do they remain hopeful of offloading another of our assets for a nominal fee? Do they really believe a boutique hotel will attract more visitors to the town than a museum, which had 6,000 visitors this summer?
“They may spend in excess of £10,000 defending our application, that’s going to cost us well over £10,000 to make. If they’re doing all of this they have got a plan in mind and if they have a plan in mind come on and say it.
“This council must stick rigidly to its determination to seek village green status so the land can be left open to public use,” added Cllr Lewis.
The town council applied for village green status in 2012 following fears the site would become out of bounds if the neighbouring Records Office building was sold off to a developer.
An inquiry is due to be held at the end of October, but the county council has asked the independent inspector to recommend refusal of the application before then, on the basis that “the statutory requirements have not been met”.
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