A covenant restricting the use of Barn Street Recreation Ground, on which Crewkerne Town Council proposed planting 105 woodland trees and a community orchard of 30 fruit and nut trees, stipulates that the area is ‘At all times for recreational purposes only, not for any other use whatsover’ under Section 33 of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1982. The legal agreement was drawn up between Somerset County Council and Crewkerne Town Council in a ‘land swap’ that allowed the relocation of St Bartholomew’s First School from West Street to Kithill in 1994.
Town councillors discussed the implications of the covenant, for their tree planting scheme, at the meeting of Full Council on September 28th. Cllr Mike Best said: “We have a history of covenants becoming a debacle, to our costs, and need to be 100% clear on the legal side of this.” The deed for the land had been reviewed by Cllr Charles Aslett, who gave his opinion as a legal professional, advising: “Not making the field an orchard but planting 30 trees around the recreation ground, would not breach the covenant and would not need consent from SCC.”
Cllr Robin Pailthorpe stated: “We don’t have a plan only sketches. We need to engage a surveyor to produce a plan on what it would look like. When we get a proper plan, we can talk to the people.” Agreeing with the councillor’s comments, Cllr Andrea Stuart added that, “if we go for more mature ones, it would be less than 30 trees.” She proposed that councillors accept the need for a proper plan and a public consultation when drawn up. The public consultation will take place in Falkland Square on a busy shopping day, such as a Saturday. The date will be announced by the town council later this year.