Campaigners welcome offer for new facility
TORBAY Council has been offered a 'land swap' in exchange for a site in Churston that has been earmarked for a sports hub.
Campaigners opposing the sports hub celebrated the announcement, but they have been warned: "Let's not rush into it."
And Brixham Town and Torbay councillor, Mike Morey (pictured), stressed the need to consult with residents before any decision is made.
The offer was revealed by Churston farmer Richard Haddock at a community partnership meeting in the village.
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Mr Haddock, who also owns Churston Farm Shop, said the Churston Barony was prepared to let the council build a sports hub on its land near Brixham Cricket Club off North Boundary Road, which is leased to Mr Haddock, in exchange for the land at Brokenbury.
The news was greeted with a round of applause by residents attending the partnership meeting, who are largely opposed to the proposed sports development in their midst.
Torbay Sports Council is seeking a 40-year lease for outdoor pitches, club house and changing rooms on 17 acres of open fields off Bridge Road at Brokenbury.
Council officers are working with local residents to try and come up with compromise plans which include community facilities.
The sports pitches will serve Brixham, Churston, Galmpton and Paignton and overflow games from Torquay.
Outgoing partnership chairman, Ken Pritchard, questioned the motives behind the offer and warned against 'rushing' into it.
Mr Haddock said: "In the last few weeks another offer has been put on the table by me and the Barony estate, of a land swap.
"We have offered the land next to Brixham Cricket Club, the land we jointly own, to swap with the two fields behind Brokenbury Quarry, with certain agreements.
"We have also offered the field next to The Grove which could solve access problems.
"We have also offered part of the surface and inner hedges of Yankee Lane, which is only a footpath at the moment, for the council to use as a cycle path.
"By way of a second negotiation we have also offered a cricket pitch and bowling green in the middle of Churston village.
"It's all on the table."
Iain Masters, senior development surveyor at Torbay Development Agency, confirmed the offer had been made, saying: "An offer of this nature has been made, but as with any such offer, it is not without strings."
Mr Pritchard said the views of Brixham residents must be taken into consideration.
He said: "It's all very well for us to say let's move it to another site but people live around that other site and it's not for us to say.
"We have to consider what are the long term implications on our community of doing such a thing.
"I would ask what are the reasons why someone would want that land? They may have long term plans.
"I would be perhaps naive of us to say 'yippee, we've got rid of the sports pitch and we've saved our fields'.
"We need to understand the potential upsides and downsides before we rush into that.
"It's a great offer to have on the table as an alternative but we need to look very carefully at it."
Cllr Morey said: "We don't know how the residents of Furzeham feel about this and we stress the need for consultation.
"Looking at that land in Brixham, I don't think there is sufficient area for what they want to do.
"We think that area is smaller than Brokenbury so it's not as simple as it seems.
"We also have to be aware of why this offer is being made."
Brixham Town Council chairman, Cllr Martyn Hodge, said he has not been 'party to the nitty gritty' details of the offer.
"I don't know what's behind the land swap," he said.
"I don't know what the offer on the table is exactly and until we do, and the reasons behind it all, I'm not in a position to say yay or nay.
"We would have to consult with a lot of people before it came to fruition."