Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Councillors to vote on new deal to buy back land to save trees from being felled

Councillors are set to vote on a plan to spend £450,000 on buying back land in Newark to save four trees from being felled.

The sycamore trees were due to be chopped due to a legally binding contract between Newark and Sherwood District Council and a developer to extend the London Road car park.

But councillor Keith Girling (Con), the council’s deputy leader, made a last-minute announcement on Friday that a new deal had been struck with the developer which could save the trees from being felled.

The authority said an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting has been scheduled for  Wednesday, 24 November at 6pm.

A motion put forward by Cllr Girling, and backed by a group of councillors, states: “At the meeting of Full Council held on 12 October 2021, it was agreed to proceed with the London Road car park extension scheme.

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“Following the receipt of an improved offer to the Council to buy the land on which the extension is proposed to be built, it is proposed that the previous decision taken by the Council on 12 October 2021 be rescinded.

“It is further proposed that the Council agrees to purchase the freehold of the land known as the London Road car park extension for the sum of £450,000, and to retain the land as green space.”

Previously, the asking price for the land by the landowner was £600,000.

The press and public will be excluded from part of the meeting due to “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person”.

The debacle has gained national attention in recent weeks with author Matt Haig sharing his support for protesters who risked arrest by sleeping beneath the trees in a bid to save them.

Campaigners said they were “on cloud nine” after Cllr Girling made the announcement on Friday.

Cllr Girling said in a Facebook live on Friday, November 12: “I have been talking to the landowner to see if there is some sort of compromise we could come up with.

“Less than an hour ago we have had another offer from Dan Derry [director of Datch Properties Ltd]. He sent me a statement saying he realised what is going on, he is all for the environment and he’s got to put his money where his mouth is.

“I really appreciate the fact that he has listened to my concerns and we have come up with a solution.”

The original agreement committed the council to build a car park extension at the site and to pay Datch Properties Ltd £30,000 per year in rent for 25 years, after an initial two-year, rent-free period.

The council previously insisted that it could not make a U-turn on the plans as it would cost the taxpayer £1m to exit the agreement.

The new deal will now be put to councillors and will be decided on next week in a meeting streamed via the council’s page on YouTube.

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