Why builders’ cash can’t be used on playing field improvements

March 01 2019
Why builders’ cash can’t be used on playing field improvements

MONEY from developers building new homes in Coalpit Heath won’t be funding new equipment at playing fields which are just around the corner.

Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes are building 215 houses at Park Lane, on a site known as Woodlands Farm. Under a legal agreement linked to their planning permission, which South Gloucestershire Council negotiates with developers, they must pay an agreed sum of money towards local infrastructure or community facilities. The money is known as Section 106 funding.

Beesmoor Road Playing Fields are the closest facilities to the homes, although they are officially in Frampton Cotterell, but have not been included among the areas which could benefit from the money.

In 2017 South Gloucestershire Council led a consultation process to identify and prioritise sites to benefit from the “allocation of outdoor sports funding” for the inclusion in the agreement with the developers. Frampton Cotterell, Westerleigh and Winterbourne parish councils were consulted as were ward councillors.

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said: “As part of the consultation the parish councils and ward members were asked to highlight their priorities for outdoor sports provision and/or enhancement, and they were sent a plan showing the eligible sites, which included the Beesmoor Lane Playing Fields.”

The sites identified as priorities via the consultation were School Road, Frampton Cotterell, and/or Coalpit Heath Cricket Club, and/or Westerleigh Playing Fields and/or Coalpit Heath Recreation Ground (also known as Manor School Playing Fields). These are the sites that were included in the S106 agreement.”

A committee working for almost five years to raise funds for improvements to Beesmoor Road Playing Fields has banked a total of £100,000 to pay for the first three phases, but it needs another £50,000 to finish the job. The volunteers are aiming to completely replace the existing children’s play equipment.

Kate Colechin, above, who has led the fundraising efforts said: “I’ve put in for a £20,000 grant, I should hear soon. It’s government funding for play area redevelopment. I’m also about to put another application in for lottery funding for the redevelopment of open spaces. That’s for a further £20,000.”

That still leaves £10,000 to find. The first items of new equipment are due to be installed in April. If the final £50,000 is found, it’s possible that the entire project to upgrade the play equipment could be completed by the end of the summer.

In order to get grants, the committee must show that it is fundraising too. Its next event is a village picnic on Saturday June 15, which it is hoping will be well supported.