Park plan hits stumbling block over ownership

Confusion over the ownership of a piece of public ground in Earlston has put plans for a largely lottery-funded children’s play park in jeopardy.

Earlston Community Development Trust was successful in gaining planning permission for an all-inclusive play park off Mill Road in December.

L-r Mags Powell and Sarah Petrie at the site for the planned play park in Earlston at Mill Meadow.

L-r Mags Powell and Sarah Petrie at the site for the planned play park in Earlston at Mill Meadow.

However it has emerged that the council is unable to lease a small part of the land as it is owned by the Crown.

An SBC spokesman said: “The council is required to regularise their title to the land at the Cauldie - an area considerably greater than the parcel to be leased.

“The Cauldie has been occupied by the council and its predecessors for almost 100 years as a public park and whilst no title was granted, there are papers showing it was the intention of the then owner to effect the transfer.

“Because the owner (a company) who was to do this is now dissolved, the legal position is that the Crown becomes the relevant body which can now grant title.”

The spokesman added: “The council’s position is that it supports the trust’s project and is pursuing the title regularisation of the Cauldie and is awaiting to hear from the Crown as to the next step in the process shortly.”

The council will have to buy the land at the value put on it by the district valuer.

However, the trust believes an objector to the £300,000 park plans may also be seeking to buy the ground, potentially to use it for private means.

Mags Powell, trust chairperson said: “We have worked very hard with the council to get the project to this stage and have had fantastic support from them all the way.

“This is why we are calling upon SBC to step in now to purchase this land and protect it from a private sale.

“We are asking all members of the community that support the project to contact their local councillors, MP and MSP to show their support and show the people determined to obstruct our project that we are representing the interests of the community and will not be defeated by their selfish behaviour.”