The land in Lady Park has been leased to agriculture for many years, and tenants have argued that the development of the path will render the parkland unusable for grazing. There are also fears that the development could open up the rest of the park to potential future development.
Councillor Sally Pattle, chairing her first meeting of the town’s Local Area Committee won agreement from the NETs Land and Countryside manager for new talks on a way ahead for the development of the path, along the edge of the loch in Lady Park.
Council lawyers are currently considering legal advice regarding a move to a CPO of the land which is held in trust as farmland.
The council won planning permission three years ago to create a new tarmac footpath through the edge of Lady Park to replace the damaged lochside path. Local critics, including the tenants, accused the council of driving a 9ft wide path through the grazing land, describing the work as akin to having a motorway to connect two B roads.
In his report to the committee Countryside Manager Andy Johnston said: “The CPO application is being progressed by Property Services in discussion with Legal Services and specialist external legal advisors. There is a high risk of legal challenges and a public inquiry. This will delay any subsequent construction beyond 2022.
“I’ll be quite happy to circulate as a briefing note to members, all the information I have once I’ve heard from the legal services.”
Speaking on behalf of the Community Council, Chris Cook said his understanding of the agreement for the park included a clause for public access and he questioned why the council had to go to the expensive legal process of obtaining a CPO. “I find it astonishing that we are spending council money on lawyers on a piece of land that is dedicated to the public in perpetuity, said Mr Cook.
Councillor Pattle told the meeting: “I just wonder if the best way forward would be if we could get a meeting of the community council, the officers involved including from Legal Services. We must get the Trust involved and also the tenant farmers.”
She added: “From what I understand there’s just been a complete breakdown of communication.
“Various parties who are involved in this have just got to a point where they’re saying ‘I’m not speaking anymore’ and that’s not going to help anybody.”