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12 February 2019, 09:19 | Updated: 12 February 2019, 09:20
The future of the strip of common land on Kendal's New Road has taken another turn.
It used to be an unofficial free car park - but that was shut on safety grounds, and it's since been landscaped.
SLDC has had to delay a consultation on its long-term future.
That's while the government's Planning Inspectorate considers a private application to cover it with tarmac.
Councillor Graham Vincent, South Lakeland District Council’s portfolio holder for Economy and Assets, explained: "We promised more than a year ago that we would let people have their say on the long-term use of the common land at New Road once the Environment Agency (EA) had released details of its flood defence proposals and it was known how those defences are likely to affect New Road.
“Now that the EA has submitted its plans we are planning a full consultation to fulfil that commitment."
Councillor Vincent continued: “The same week we confirmed the consultation would go-ahead in the New Year we were made aware that a private individual had submitted an application to government for permission to put tarmacadam down over the whole site.
“We believe that the application is fundamentally flawed. It offers no evidence of public interest in whether the land is returned to hard-standing or whether it should be retained as green space, something that would be tested in our consultation, and doesn’t consider or make any mention of the impact of the proposed flood defence works.
“In our response we have invited the Secretary of State to dismiss the application so that we can get on and carry out our consultation, which will present all the information people need to make a reasoned decision and will be a true test of public opinion.
“We would also point out that what is being proposed in this application would not lead to the land simply becoming a car park. The application to the Secretary of State seeks to lay hard-standing, but it is our view that it would still require a de-registration application to remove the common land designation were it ever to be developed as a safe and lawful car park.
“This de-registration option would have been covered in the consultation anyway, so much like last year’s parish poll we see this application as unnecessary, especially if it ends up going to a costly public inquiry.
“We have repeatedly said over the past year that all feasible options will be included in the consultation, including a potential car parking option, along with green space options, so residents can have their say over which they prefer."