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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/01/2007
LEASES OF COMMON LAND TO PARISH COUNCILS



Summary & Purpose
This report seeks members’ authorisation to agree new leases on common land with Parish Councils that are `holding over` under leases that expired some time ago.

APPENDIX H
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 9TH January 2007

Title:
LEASES OF COMMON LAND TO PARISH COUNCILS
[Wards Affected: All]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

An annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 3 of the revised Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972,namely:-

Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

Summary and purpose:

This report seeks members’ authorisation to agree new leases on common land with Parish Councils that are `holding over` under leases that expired some time ago.

Environmental implications:

Appropriate management of Waverley commons is important to ensure provision of public recreation and protection of biodiversity.

Social / community implications:

Involving Parish Councils in the direct management of the commons helps to make the commons more responsive to meeting local people’s needs, as well as ensuring a high quality landscape setting.

E-Government implications:

There are no e-government implications to this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The renewal of these leases will involve officer time in negotiating new terms, producing management plans for the commons and drafting the leases. Developing a common framework and strategy for the leases should assist in reducing the amount of work involved, both initially and in the long-term management of the leases.

Background

1. Waverley owns 451 hectares of common land, some of which form greens within village centres. Four Parish Councils (Dunsfold, Chiddingfold, Elstead and Wonersh) have had leases for areas of common land within their boundaries. These leases were drawn up many years ago and their terms and conditions no longer reflect modern management practices. All of them have now expired, but as the leases have not been formally terminated, it is assumed that the lessees are `holding over` under the original terms.

2. The current leases delegate to the Parish Council, the functions of the Council under the Commons Regulation Scheme. However, over the years, changing environmental practices and increased litigation has made the terms of these leases increasingly irrelevant. With the request of Chiddingfold Parish Council to renew its lease, it is considered an opportunity to reassess all similar leases to ensure that they both meet present requirements and are capable of amendment over the period of the lease to take account of changing practices and needs.

3. At the beginning of 2004, Waverley entered into a lease of Blackheath Common. This lease sets out a framework of responsibilities; with a management plan setting out in detail the work that will be undertaken. The management plan is designed to be updated every five years to keep in line with the requirements of the site. This type of lease allows for flexibility, ensuring that it does not become obsolete over its term. It also ensures that the lease can be of a sufficiently long period for grants to be obtained for any improvement projects.

4. It is proposed that a similar lease structure is produced for Parish Councils. Details within the leases may vary to take account of the differing requirements of each party. The basic principle of the lease, however, should remain the same.

Conclusion

5. Following the request of Chiddingfold Parish Council to renew their lease, it would appear an opportunity to reconsider the leases of all such land, both those that have been granted in the past and those that may be sought in the future. It would appear appropriate to grant leases in similar form to that granted to Waverley in respect of Blackheath Common in order to ensure that the lease does not become obsolete over its term. The lease would therefore be in two parts: a) the basic framework of the responsibilities set out in the lease, b) a management plan, reviewed every 5 years, to implement them.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. officers be authorised to enter into negotiations for leases of common land with Parish Councils, on the basis of the terms and conditions set out in the (Exempt) Annexe, other terms and conditions to be agreed by the Countryside Management Officer and the Property and Development Manager; and

2. the Scheme of Delegation be amended to authorise appropriate officers in the Property and Leisure Sections to agree leases with Parish Councils to manage Council-owned common land.

Background Papers (DoEL/DoPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Jane Bowden Telephone: 01483 523443
E-mail: jbowden@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/exec/2006-07/265