Residents of Woodford Halse voted overwhelmingly in favour of registering the old rail yards as an ‘asset of community value’ at a public meeting held in the village’s memorial hall last night.
This leafy 21 acre plot of land beloved by ramblers and railway enthusiasts alike was put on sale in March with a guide price of £175,000 to £200,000 ahead of a planned auction at the end of April. The listing on the Howkins and Harrison website describes the plot as having “development potential”.
But following a meeting between the landowners parish council chairman Kay Coles the land was removed from the auction ahead of last night’s meeting which was attended by well over a hundred villagers, district councillors Jo Gildford and Bob Patchett and members of the village’s parish council.
In a letter to Woodford cum Membris Parish Council, Jeff Paybody of Howkins and Harrison said his clients were willing to give the council the opportunity to raise the necessary funds but the property will be still available for sale on a private treaty basis. He said: “My clients still feel free to accept a reasonable offer from a third party should it arise.
“If a sale is not agreed with the parish council within a reasonable timescale then my instructions will be to re-offer the land in our collective auction which is likely to take place towards the end of June 2015.”
If the parish council are successful in bidding to register the old rail yards as a community asset community groups will then have up to six months to prepare a bid for the property, during which time the owners will be unable to sell. However this is not a right to buy and the landowners can sell the land to whoever they wish at the end of the six month period.
During the meeting, residents made several suggestions on how to raise the necessary funds, which include a share scheme or a hike in the council tax precept.