The Ashford Sports Field
The Village Hall Committee has asked for this article to be included in order to update the village on a recently received proposal concerning the present joint ownership of the village sports field. Since 1962, when the, then, two agricultural fields were acquired, the sports field has been owned jointly by two parties, neither party owning a specific part of the field but both owning the whole jointly and leasing the field to the Village Hall. One of the parties subsequently bequeathed their share of the field to the Village Hall; the other party, who no longer live in the village, have retained ownership within their family. Since 1992 therefore, when the lease was renewed, the Village Hall has been both landlord and tenant of the sports field.
The lease came up for renewal at the beginning of this year, but the family did not wish to enter into a new lease. Instead, they have requested that the ownership be physically split. The Hall would retain half of the field nearest to the Hall and the family would have sole ownership of a northern half of the field. The family would then be prepared to enter a short term lease with the Village Hall for the Hall to retain usage, but not ownership, of the northern half.
The legal advice that the Village Hall Committee has received is that it would be in the Hall’s best interest to accept the proposed split of the field. This would guarantee the Hall’s ownership of half the field, including the bowling green, in perpetuity. If the proposal is not accepted, the advice received is that the family can, and probably will, force the sale of the whole field on the open market. While everything would be done to secure ownership of the field, this cannot be guaranteed and instead could result in the loss of the whole field, including the tennis court, play area and bowling green. As such, this course of action represents a significant risk to a major community resource.
This is a legally complicated issue with significant implications for the future. As a result, the Village Hall Committee is continuing the discussions with the lawyers in order to ensure that all the facts and their ramifications have been considered.
An open village meeting will then be held on Wednesday 6th November at 7pm in the Village Hall.
Further details on the background to the field ownership will be given together with a summary of the legal advice received and the response the Village Hall Committee is intending to make.
In the meantime, should anyone wish to discuss the above or require clarification, please contact Matthew Brundrett, Village Hall Committee secretary on 831342.