Gissing Parish Council has committed to resolving a long-running saga over the future of a plot of local land, despite their attempt at a compulsory purchase being turned down.
Parish councillors, local groups and businesses wish to buy a significant for-sale green in Gissing’s Conservation Area, arguing that community ownership provided the most viable long-term future for the land.
But on Tuesday, South Norfolk Council’s Cabinet followed their officer’s recommendation to decline the request for a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), on the grounds the site is “being actively marketed at a reasonable asking price.”
However, parish council chairman Jim Philip said they would continue to negotiate a public acquisition, and stated the village did not want to see a developer build on the green.
“We do have other ways to achieve our objectives. It (the CPO) was always only a possibility, to see if the district council would act on our behalf,” Cllr Philip told the Diss Express.
“We are quite prepared to pay for the green. Once we can settle on a fair figure, we are happy to go ahead and sort out this problem for good. It’s been going on for so long.
“But as it’s public money, our feeling is the price is still way too high.”
The land, located off Lower Street, was placed up for sale by owner Stan Rainbird around two years ago, and is currently on the market with local agents TW Gaze for £160,000.
A key issue regarding the asking price has been a dispute over the cost of eradicating the large presence of Japanese knotweed on site.
In his report, South Norfolk Council officer Tim Horspole said removing the infestation will likely require £10,000—£20,000, while Gissing Parish Council claim their consultations with experts indicate the fee could be as high as £100,000.
Cllr Philip explained the parish council now aimed to obtain the green in conjunction with the Heart of Gissing group, which recently received a Big Lottery Fund grant for £711,356 to develop the nearby Old School and surroundings into a community centre.
“We feel the green would provide the perfect outdoor space for this centre. Put the two together and we have got a really valuable core,” he added.
The council will also hold a public meeting shortly, in order to discuss the matter further.