MELKSHAM Without Parish Council is considering selling a portion of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Sports Field in Bowerhill to a local business.
The sale of the land, which is estimated to amount to 20% of the sports field, will allow the undisclosed Bowerhill-based business to expand and create more jobs for the area.
However, as the sports field is protected by Fields in Trust, the independent charity that protects parks and green spaces in the UK, allowing people to enjoy in perpetuity, the sale of land has strict terms and conditions. One condition is that any land sold is replaced with another piece of recreation land that is the same size or bigger, and is still easily accessible by the community that used the former piece of land.
At a public meeting held earlier this month, parish clerk, Teresa Strange said, “We have an opportunity to give even more green space to the residents of Bowerhill without taking away the sports field. We would lose 20% of the sports field, but give you something else. There will be no loss of football pitches or any activities that are carried out on the field.”
Chairman of Melksham Without Parish Council, Richard Wood said, “This started in September last year with an approach from a firm about the possibility of using some of our playing field land for development.
“They want to create a facility that would be multi-use and allow for future expansion and have a variety of tasks going on in it. One of the main points they make is that it would increase employment in Melksham and this approach came to us not long after the sad news of Cooper Tires cutting 300 jobs – and that’s a lot of people and it shocked Melksham at the time. It’s still shocking now to think how vulnerable we are to a big company like Cooper Tires closing.
“The offer of something that might lead to more employment meant that the councillors felt like they couldn’t ignore it and had to look at how it might work.”
At the full parish council meeting last week, councillors agreed unanimously to commit in principle to the land transfer taking place, provided all conditions are met.
Speaking to Melksham News, parish clerk Teresa Strange said, “This decision means that we can now actively look for suitable replacement land that is close and accessible to Bowerhill. There is a long way to go yet, and Fields in Trust has the final decision – they need to agree to the sale and approve the replacement green space – which would also become protected by them.”