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Lawnside talks delayed to 2014
8:50am Monday 21st October 2013 in Ledbury
A PUBLIC meeting to discuss building a superstore on Lawnside will probably not take place until the new year because Ledbury Town Council is to pay up to £14,000 of taxpayers’ money for expert advice.
The meeting will be called by community group the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party, but the town council agreed to fund the cost of consultants to help complete the neighbourhood plan.
Now the group must wait until the consultants have been appointed, following a tendering process, and then liaise with the consultants over any public consultation.
This is likely to push the date for a public meeting, which was originally planned for last month or this, into next year.
Concerns are now growing that the public is being kept too much in the dark, and there are calls for greater openness.
Yvonne White, a former town trader who opposes Lawnside being redeveloped for a 30,000 sq ft superstore, said: “I am disappointed, because the more we know about the proposals, the more we can influence the way forward. We should have all the information instead of it being behind closed doors all the time.”
The proposals for Lawnside would lead to the demolition of the swimming pool, community centre, youth club, fire station and former ambulance station.
Under the plan, a new joint swimming pool, community centre and youth club complex would be built at the Orchard Lane end of the Recreation Ground, together with an outdoor multi-use games area.
Councillor Bob Barnes, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Group and a Ledbury town councillor, said: “We will need to co-ordinate with the consultants for our public consultation, which will not just be about Lawnside but the retail development of the whole town. But the proposal for Lawnside obviously has a big effect.”
Coun Barnes stressed his desire to see the Ledbury public “engage with the procedure”.
Research by town clerk Karen Mitchell has revealed that consultancy work for a neighbourhood plan could cost as much as £14,000.
Coun Clive Jupp, speaking at last week’s full town council meeting, said: “It’s well within our budget. It’s a no-brainer. Let’s get on with it.”
The decision to go out to tender for a consultant for the neighbourhood plan was approved by an unanimous vote.
Philip King of PLK Properties, the developer with designs on the Lawnside area, has already stated his intention to start his own consultation process soon, alongside or separate to the Neighbourhood Plan Group.
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