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Cowling village halls.


January 5th Parish council meeting.


Alongside the document presented from the village hall committee (VHC) was the Section 106 document mentioned in paragraph one of the presentation, and this gave the parish council their first surprise.

The whole of that particular document can be seen HERE but it’s long, so perhaps best to go through it piece by piece, a bit like a detective novel!


The first paragraph of the VHC document stated that the Section 106 was an agreement - it wasn’t, it was a unilateral Undertaking from Skipton Properties to Craven district council to build a village hall! In exchange for gaining planning consent on the land at Acre Mill!


That same paragraph said that part of the Section 106 was an undertaking to hand over the old hall in exchange for the new one.

Again, it wasn’t!


Nowhere in that Section 106 is there any mention of the old hall, and it is stressed that the document is a one sided undertaking, from Skipton properties, to Craven district council, stating that if they got permission to build at Acre Mill, then a new hall would be given to the parish council.


This Section 106 was signed by lots of people, including the managing director of Skipton properties, and it sets out the timetable by which the hall must be delivered, up to specification, to the parish council.


And then another anomaly  turned up.

The Section 106 undertaking was signed on the 10th April 2006, but at the very next meeting of the parish council, that council were informed that:



Item 10. To receive and consider reports and Minutes of the following committees:

 

b) Cowling Village Hall

Planning permission has been granted for the development of Acre Mill, which includes the building of a new village hall in exchange for the old hall site.  


This apparent mis-statement had apparently been accepted up to the present time, leading to the belief of the VHC that the old hall should be given away!


Apparently the old hall had received a valuation of £175,000 which meant that if the village did not have to give it to Skipton properties, then it was available to sell, and raise funds. True, property prices had decreased over the last year, but even so much needed funds looked like they might be available for the new hall.


Needing to have some sort of confirmation of this, a visit was made to Craven district council.

A check with the Head of planning there resulted in an e-mail as follows:


“The Unilateral Undertaking under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990(as amended) relating to land at Acre Mill Cowling dated 10th April 2006 is still the extant planning obligation that forms part of the planning permission for the site and cannot be varied or altered without the agreement of the planning authority. As far as I am aware (and I have checked with colleagues in Legal Services), no formal approaches to alter this agreement have been made to the Council.


As you will be aware, there is no requirement in the planning obligation for the transfer of the existing Cowling village hall to the developers. The obligation requires the developer to construct a new village hall in accordance with the details shown on the drawing (1712.3B) and to the specification set out in the schedule of the S106 and in accordance with a programme as set out in the S106, including that the ownership of the new village hall is transferred to Cowling Parish Council before no more than 29 dwellings have been occupied on the Acre Mill site.

I hope this provides you with sufficient information for your purposes.”



This sounded like good news, and so an e-mail was sent to the village hall committee:


“I cannot stress too strongly that Skipton properties have to hand over the village hall this autumn according to the unilateral Section 106 document, and in the condition which that document states.

This is without strings, it is to be freely given to the parish council two years after the first house has been occupied, a date sometime this autumn I am informed.

The report presented to council states, in the very first paragraph, the following:


“The parish council, in association with the then improperly constituted Village hall committee, entered into an agreement with Skipton properties and Craven district council the Cowling would hand over its existing serviceable village hall in exchange for a new village hall building – as part of a Section 106 Planning agreement.”


That statement is not born out by the section 106, which is a unilateral undertaking to build and freely give the new village hall to the parish council at no cost, and not an agreement.


If the old village hall is to be given to Skipton properties then I, and I’m sure the parish council and villagers, will wish to know what we are to receive for it, as it was valued at £195,000 (*) some time ago.

The parish council has a legal and moral obligation to council tax payers to keep them informed, this document was presented at a public meeting with no request for any discussions in camera.

As we have increased parish precept by a large amount to fund only a small part of monies needed then it is important that those who pay the bills know just what and why.


(* A mistake, it was actually valued at £175,000 - but see a later article for news on that.)


Now the important part.


I would ask the village hall committee not to sign anything which gives away our old village hall until the parish council understand fully why we should give it away, and what we are receiving in exchange for it, as the Section 106 is very clear, we get the new village hall up to the standard laid down for no cost to the village at all.