Parish Council buys land for the village for a cricket pavilion then gives them £20,000 to help get planing.

0 votes
Our Parish council (PC) purchased a piec of land on behalf of a trust not set up at the time.

The trust was set up about year ago.

The Parish council still own the land and have agreed to give the new trust £20,000 (£10,000 2018 + £10,000 2019) towards getting planning for a new community building. On land that the PC currently owns.

This has been done with very little consultation with the village and when this idea was first discussed it was for help with funding up to £5,000

Its understood when the plans are accepted the Parish will then give/sell the land to the new trust fund.

At the time of buying the land there was already a village hall trust which is part of the project that had sufficient funds to buy the land in the first place.

When the plans come before the PC should they be able to agree them and pass it onto the planners with PC approval? As its now in the PC's interest for the planning to go ahead.

When they pass the land onto the new trust are they required to sell it at the price they paid or does it have to be at the market rate?
asked by (180 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
More detail needed. When you say the PC are going to give the Trust £20,000 to "help get planning" what does that entail?  Part of the cost will include fees to the principal Planning authority to process the Planning application and fees for drawing up plans etc to an agent - but is that all of the  £20K?.  By the way the PC's opinion will only be considered-  the application will be determined in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. .  As fa as resale is concerned, they may have many moral obligations but I suspect under the general power of competence they could sell it on at a loss and get  away with just a severe ticking off from the external auditors.- unless a criminal offence e.g fraud could be proven.
answered by (2.3k points)
Initially the new trust asked the PC for £5,000 to help pay for the planning application.
Then came back and asked for it to be increased to £10,000 and now an additional £10,000 is being set aside for them in the 2019 budget.
The cost of getting the plans and approval is estimated at £40,000 this includes all application fees and professional fees of the architects and surveyors. The remainder (£20,000) is coming from donations and grants.

My concern is that the PC are allocating parish funds for land they own so its in there interest to make sure it gets approval there has been no talk of the £20,00 being paid back to the PC when the trust has raised the full amount to cover the project approx. £950,000.

We like many parishes and villages have just had our bus service cut and have been asking the PC for the last year to help fund a once a week service but they have done very little about it.
0 votes
When you say "It is understood" is that actually derived from PC minutes or just hearsay? Having read this again, there are often strict conditions attached the award of external grants.  These may well stipulate what the community building can be used for and how much it can be sold for.  The plans must satisfy the Planning Officers in your Principal Authority.  If they don't and consent is refused, more costs could be incurred. Somebody should have sought informal planning advice from them.

My suggestion is to submit a series of Freedom of Information requests.  These to include asking for the names of the organisations providing the grants, copies of any agreements made between the PC and the Trustees and check the PC minutes to see if information quoted and resolutions are consistent with the FOI responses to the above.

One possibility is that you could call for a Parish Poll to ask if there is support for the plans. If there is a good response and the answer is no, the PC could not ignore that.
answered by (2.3k points)
Yes complicated and I will try to answer the points raised in the last two answers from Grame_r and DavetheClerk. I'm sorry it will require some patience to read.

There was a village meeting in September 2017 when this was first mentioned to the public but there had been behind the scenes discussions with the interested parties Parish Council, Cricket Club, Village Hall and the landowner for some months possibly a year before the meeting where all parties where sworn to secrecy. They formed a steering group which employed an architect and obtained some pre planning advice.
It was this steering group supported by the PC that held the public meeting to outlined plans for the project which at the time was for a new community building built within the cricket field with an estimated cost of £400,000 which was to be raised by using funds from the village hall account and at the right time selling the current village hall site and getting grants/funding from as then unannounced bodies but expected to be sports England the Local authority, HS2, National Lottery and private individuals within the village. From this meeting a unofficial ballot was held by the PC (This ballot has since been called in to question by various persons and the Minister for Housing Communities and Local Government). But the ballot did show a majority in favour of this community project as presented to the village during the September 2017 meeting. The Pre planning advice received at the time that this building had a chance of gaining planning approval but could not be certain until detailed plans submitted.

At and extra PC meeting 29th January 2018 called  by the PC chair on the 24th January 2018. To give approval of buying the land for the project and the PC to be guardians of the land until the new trust is set up. That in the 2018-19 budget £5,000 should be allocated to the project apparently this was agree at a previous meeting (9th Jan 2018) I have read the minutes of this meeting and there is no mention of this or in the finance report supplied at the time. During this meeting (29/1) the Chairman asked the PC to pay all reasonable legal fees for the land owner and the decision on that figure to be taken by the Chair and The Clerk all present gave their approval.

Jan 2018 in a letter was published by way of a update from the Parish council and the steering group. Stated that when the new trust is setup it will purchase the land from either the owner or direct from the PC for  the price the PC paid.

PC Meeting 13th March 2018 Chairman confirms that PC now own the land

PC Meeting on the 8th May 2018 confirms the new trust has been setup

PC Meeting 13th November 2018 a request is made from the New trust for increased funds (no details appear in the minutes) but I was at the meeting and can say they asked for an increase of funding from £5,000 to £10,000 (2018-19) this year and an additional £10,000 next year. neither of which appears in the budget.

The PC has now changed its practice of publishing its draft minutes after every meeting and now only publishes agreed and signed minutes after the next meeting.

Jan 2019 there was a public meeting by the new trust to unveil its new plans which are now for a building twice the original size with a  input from the PC of £20,000. They have now employed an architect and surveyor which produced new plans and the estimated building costs. The village has been asked to comment via a comments box or email to the Clerk

When the steering committee was first setup it was under the Chairmanship of the PC chairman with the Clerk acting as Secretary/Clerk

The new trust set which is now setup still has the Chairman of the PC as the PC representative and the Clerk is still its secretary/clerk

The PC have yet to hand over/sell the land
We are told the funds from the PC are to pay towards the planning process and architects fees but I cant see them ever refusing any financial request because its their best interest and their biased position.
0 votes
This is complicated.  So many questions.  Does the council have the General Power of Competence?  What is/will be the legal relationship between the council and the trust?  Did the council obtain legal advice from a suitably qualified source before embarking on this course of action?  £950,000 is a huge sum of money to raise.  How approximate is it?  Is there a realistic plan of where this money will come from?  Have the funders been involved in discussions regarding the project?  Major funders, including the National Lottery, like to consider the proposal before architects drawings and planning permission.  They focus on the difference that the building will make to your community, rather than the bricks and mortar.  Some, if not all, of these fees could have been paid by external funders, but not retrospectively.  Has there been an extensive programme of community involvement in the design of the facility?  Is a building of this scale really justified, or is it a vanity project?
answered by (1.9k points)
Yes complicated and I will try to answer the points raised in the last two answers from Grame_r and DavetheClerk. I'm sorry it will require some patience to read.

There was a village meeting in September 2017 when this was first mentioned to the public but there had been behind the scenes discussions with the interested parties Parish Council, Cricket Club, Village Hall and the landowner for some months possibly a year before the meeting where all parties where sworn to secrecy. They formed a steering group which employed an architect and obtained some pre planning advice.
It was this steering group supported by the PC that held the public meeting to outlined plans for the project which at the time was for a new community building built within the cricket field with an estimated cost of £400,000 which was to be raised by using funds from the village hall account and at the right time selling the current village hall site and getting grants/funding from as then unannounced bodies but expected to be sports England the Local authority, HS2, National Lottery and private individuals within the village. From this meeting a unofficial ballot was held by the PC (This ballot has since been called in to question by various persons and the Minister for Housing Communities and Local Government). But the ballot did show a majority in favour of this community project as presented to the village during the September 2017 meeting. The Pre planning advice received at the time that this building had a chance of gaining planning approval but could not be certain until detailed plans submitted.

At and extra PC meeting 29th January 2018 called by the PC chair on the 24th January 2018. To give approval of buying the land for the project and the PC to be guardians of the land until the new trust is set up. That in the 2018-19 budget £5,000 should be allocated to the project apparently this was agree at a previous meeting (9th Jan 2018) I have read the minutes of this meeting and there is no mention of this or in the finance report supplied at the time. During this meeting (29/1) the Chairman asked the PC to pay all reasonable legal fees for the land owner and the decision on that figure to be taken by the Chair and The Clerk all present gave their approval.

Jan 2018 in a letter was published by way of a update from the Parish council and the steering group. Stated that when the new trust is setup it will purchase the land from either the owner or direct from the PC for  the price the PC paid.

PC Meeting 13th March 2018 Chairman confirms that PC now own the land

PC Meeting on the 8th May 2018 confirms the new trust has been setup

PC Meeting 13th November 2018 a request is made from the New trust for increased funds (no details appear in the minutes) but I was at the meeting and can say they asked for an increase of funding from £5,000 to £10,000 (2018-19) this year and an additional £10,000 next year. neither of which appears in the budget.

The PC has now changed its practice of publishing its draft minutes after every meeting and now only publishes agreed and signed minutes after the next meeting.

Jan 2019 there was a public meeting by the new trust to unveil its new plans which are now for a building twice the original size with a  input from the PC of £20,000. They have now employed an architect and surveyor which produced new plans and the estimated building costs. The village has been asked to comment via a comments box or email to the Clerk

When the steering committee was first setup it was under the Chairmanship of the PC chairman with the Clerk acting as Secretary/Clerk

The new trust set which is now setup still has the Chairman of the PC as the PC representative and the Clerk is still its secretary/clerk

The PC have yet to hand over/sell the land
We are told the funds from the PC are to pay towards the planning process and architects fees but I cant see them ever refusing any financial request because its their best interest and their biased position.

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