Campaigners are urging people to keep fighting to save Westward Ho! pavilion building from demolition after losing village green appeal. Have your say in our poll here.
Campaigners have lost their battle to ‘save’ a Westward Ho! park – and now the district council is wading forward with plans to develop the site.
Following a year-long inquiry, Devon County Council has concluded that the land off Golf Links Road, owned by Torridge District Council (TDC), will not legally become a designated village green.
On Monday, TDC’s community and resources committee is due to meet to discuss the demolition of the pavilion building, formerly The Happy Café, and start work on future plans for the site.
The café, run by the charity Seize The Moment, closed in September after eight years in the pavilion building.
In a report to the council committee, TDC commercial and leisure services manager, Sean Kearney, said the building was ‘structurally at the end of its life’ and should be demolished to make the site ‘safe’.
Councillors are also recommended to vote for officers to bring a report to a further meeting on options for the future.
Last year TDC held a consultation event on plans to build new houses and a car park on the site, as well as ‘improving’ the park and tennis courts.
Mike Durkin and Diana Redfern, of the Who’s Park Campaign, are urging people to attend the public meeting on Monday to keep fighting.
In a joint statement they said: “TDC is using new legislation that comes into force next year that means that they can’t lease a building which has poor energy efficiency.
“Without a long term lease they (Seize The Moment) could not attract funding for their activities and they had no option but to close this well-loved project.”
The land is owned by TDC but Northam town mayor Hugh Brading said there was ‘a strong legal argument’ it had been owned by Northam Town Council since 1974.
Mr Brading said he would be attending the meeting to ask councillors to defer their decision until this had been clearly established.
He added: “There is clear evidence (collected and held by TDC themselves) that the public wish the park to be preserved in Westward Ho!”
The council will discuss the matter at its Community and Resources committee meeting on Monday at 10am, in Bideford Town Hall.
‘A fair decision’
Councillor Jane Whittaker, the leader of Torridge District Council said: “The beauty of living in a democracy is that each of us can openly express our opinions and raise challenges to any decision making processes.
“In this instance everyone has had their day in court and we can rest assured that a fair decision has been arrived at.
“Moving forward, the council will now take a detailed look at the site and put together a proposal which will benefit the whole village. Much has already been achieved in Westward Ho! and we will continue to work with the local community to deliver the sort of regeneration which will benefit residents as a whole, while also enhancing the experience for our visitors.”
VOTE: Should TDC demolish the pavilion building? Have your say in our poll above or comment below on what you think the council should do with the land.