Update on Monday, August 17, 10pm: Uckfield town councillors have agreed to look at coming to an agreement with Churchcoombe Residents’ Association allowing them to tidy up and maintain a section of land the council owns at Downland Copse.
Members of the environment and leisure committee who met tonight (Monday, August 17) said the agreement should be for one year initially and then be reviewed. A condition of the agreement would be the protection of a buffer zone between the copse and residents’ fences.
Cllr Paul Sparks, Liberal Democrat, North, who is not a member of the committee, told councillors the area came within the ward he represented and he had spoken to residents whose homes backed on to the land.
There had been issues in the past of noise and nuisance coming from the area but they were relaxed about whether or not the residents’ association took over the land.
Their main concern was that and hedges or vegetation at the back of their fences should remain to provide a buffer zone.
Our original story: Churchcoombe Residents’ Association is asking to lease an area of land, between The Drive and Downland Copse, Uckfield, to clean it up and use it as a picnic area.
The site includes a multi-use games area, known by residents as The Cage, a grassed area and some woodland.
One section, containing The Cage, is owned by Uckfield Town Council, given to them as part of a Section 52 Agreement by developers as public open space. Another has no known registered owner.
The multi-use games area was created and funded as part of The Downland Youth Diversion Project, funded by the town council, Sussex Police and local residents.
The Churchcoombe Residents’ Association has said in a letter to the town council: “The area backing onto the houses is overgrown and being used as a dumping ground for garden refuse from the houses behind.
“This is a real shame as with a lot of TLC and manpower it could be made into a lovely picnic area. Also if it were to be cleared and made use of it would hopefully prevent it being used as a dumping ground.
“Around the Cage area there is potential for many uses ie levelled and possibly the installation of one or two pieces of green gym equipment.”
The association has offered to tidy up and maintain the areas as they have another, lower piece of land. It says opening up the area could prevent “wrong doings” around there.
Legal advice provided to the town council is that a management agreement would be preferred over a lease.
A report to the environment and leisure committee which meets tonight says: “This is because the proponents of play areas tend to lose interest after their children reach an age when the equipment is no longer of interest.
“If they want to obtain grants (other than from the council) they may require a lease but the formality of this puts people off”.
The council is advised the area is public open space and the public would still be entitled to use the area at any time and no exclusive use for any person or group would be permitted.
The report warns that opening up the area adjacent to Downland Copse properties could lead to complaints from residents.
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory