Fresh hope for Cromer Town Council to take over North Lodge Park

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2014

Wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.

Wild flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

A bid to revamp a Cromer clifftop park may have to run on half-funding after the town’s crematorium project was turned down.

But town councillors are keen to keep North Lodge Park in good condition on a reduced budget.

And they are trying avoid the thorny issue of installing car parking to raise extra revenue – a move which caused a major outcry the last time it was suggested in 2006.

The town council is poised to take over the historic park from North Norfolk District Council in a bid to get more control of its future.

But the move was banking on getting rental income from the crematorium, and councillors are having to rethink the sums.

Developers behind the crematorium are expected to appeal the decision. But in the meantime town councillors this week voted to carry on with negotiations with the district council.

There was also a new proposal to run the park over one year on £18,626 – compared to £35,000 – from town councillor Phil Harris.

He said: “People feel the park is essential. The amount of green space for people in Cromer is below the national average. If the transfer did not take place the district council would have to look at managing the park.

“One of the possibilities could be putting in a car park to create revenue to pay for the management. We don’t think that is what Cromer residents want. We want to protect that green open space.”

He admitted the new budget was “tight” but viable.

It is made up of a £3 precept increase, per household, amounting to £13,626 and £5,000 from money originally allocated to youth and sport provision.

“North Lodge Park is there for young people to use and if they want to kick a football around we are not going to say get out of the park,” Mr Harris added.

He was positive the land transfer would go ahead which would trigger £150,000 to help with five years of maintenance costs.

It is hoped the North Lodge Park committee can complete negotiations by September this year and the £150,000 grant can be match funded.

During Monday’s town council meeting David Pritchard suggested suspending negotiations until the crematorium situation was clarified.

He believed the reduced maintenance budget was “unviable” and insisted putting and bowls, which people enjoyed but which were under threat, should remain.

Jim Bond said withdrawing from negotiations would be “petulant to the extreme” and Hilary Cox said it would be a shame to pull out as the council was close to reaching an agreement.

Mr Harris said the putting and bowls were not regularly used but it was important to make the park into a destination, rather than a cut-through to the Gangway.

The North Lodge Park committee hopes to meet and involve the public in future meetings. Park ambitions include improving the toilets and putting in a toddlers’ play area.

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