Council 'settlement' in long-running Shrewsbury land dispute discussed behind closed doors
Councillors held a meeting behind closed doors to discuss a long-running dispute over a patch of recreation ground that it wrongly sold to developers for housing.
Shrewsbury Town Council held an extraordinary meeting on Monday with one main item on the agenda, to "consider a Settlement Agreement for the piece of land off Greenfields Recreation Ground".
Prior to the item being discussed at the council's base at Livesey House, St Johns Hill, those present were asked to vote to exclude the public.
The grounds for this being taken away from the eyes of the general public were that the consideration of the item may involve the likely disclosure of confidential information.
Council leader Councillor Alan Mosley said: "We can't say anything at the moment. The meeting was private so that members can discuss progress on discussions on repossessing the land in question."
In October the council directly appealed to residents via a hand-delivered newsletter in the area to "bear with us" as it seeks to find a solution to a long-running dispute over a patch of recreation ground.
Shrewsbury Town Council has “unreservedly apologised” to the residents of Greenfields after it failed to identify the legal status of part of the much loved recreation ground despite residents’ campaigns.
In the newsletter hand-delivered to residents in the Greenfields and Herongate area of Shrewsbury, the town council said it is committed to getting the site “returned to public ownership and made available as a public amenity”.
“We ask that the community bear with us through these complicated and sensitive negotiations and will continue to update you with what we can when we can.
“We appreciate that this process may seem lengthy but there are many issues to consider and this must be done with care and due diligence.”
The council adds that it is “currently involved in negotiations with other parties to ascertain how best this can be done”.
“However, we have a responsibility to manage public money carefully and will not be prepared to write a blank cheque to pay over to the developer and his financier.”
In March this year a ruling at the Supreme Court quashed planning permission that Shropshire Council had granted for housing on part of the recreation ground site.
But Shrewsbury Town Council had been found at fault by not advertising its intention to sell the land that it had considered “surplus to needs” in 2010.
“Our intention was to sell a piece of land that we saw as not needed in order to raise funds to support and develop town council facilities,” the newsletter reads.
The council has publicly apologised for its mistakes and agreed to “seek to return the land to public ownership.”
“We would like to clarify that the town council has never had any intention of disposing of the much larger pieces of land which contain the multi sports court, the play area and the open spaces.”