Funds have been approved to carry out initial work to improve common land at New Road in Kendal.
A meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) Full Council agreed to provide a budget of £286,000 for ‘reinstatement and decontamination’.
This follows on from a Cabinet recommendation on 15 September that officers look at revising the £430,000 budget that was originally allocated to develop a riverside park at New Road, in favour of a reduced ‘initial’ scheme.
The initial scheme could then form groundwork for the final long-term design and use of the New Road common, which will be subject to further public engagement and debate.
The money will be used to ensure the site can be better used for its currently designated purpose as common land.
The initial measures will include decontamination of the site and creating safe access points from the two pedestrian crossings and from the footbridge from Gooseholme, with partial landscaping works so it can be enjoyed for open air recreation.
The initial design will enable the site’s continued use by the fair. This follows a Cabinet decision that the fair remain on New Road and not be moved temporarily to Gooseholme.
Proposing the budget be allocated for the initial works, Councillor Graham Vincent, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Assets, explained that the majority of the costs would be for the decontamination works, which are required regardless of the eventual long-term use for the site.
Councillor Vincent said: “The initial scheme will allow the site to be enjoyed as common land in line with its current designation, pending the outcome of the public consultation that will ultimately determine the long-term use for the land.
“We’ve said we will consult on final designs for New Road, but these interim works are simply to make it more accessible and safer as a first phase.
“The decontamination work would need to be carried out in any event, ahead of any development as public open space or for some form of car parking if the land was de-registered, so this is money that would have to be invested whatever the outcome of that consultation.
“What it does mean is that we can tidy-up the site and make it a more pleasant space for people to enjoy in line with its designation as common land, for the benefit of the whole community.’’
An amendment calling for a referral back to the Portfolio Holder and council officers for further detail was defeated by 21 votes to 14. Two councillors abstained.
It is expected that the initial works will start in February 2018 and be completed by the end of March 2018.