Somerset

Church covenant could stop Weston-super-Mare car park plan

Plans to turn tennis courts in Weston-super-Mare into a car park could be scrapped because of a land covenant.

North Somerset Council wants to redevelop the sports area by Grove Park to raise £160,000 per year.

However, an ancient covenant gives St John's Church the final say on whether it can be used for purposes other than sports and leisure.

Elfan Ap Rees, from the Conservative-controlled council, said it was in negotiations with the diocese.

He said: "We are fully aware of the covenant and have already approached the church to see whether we can reach a compromise and whether they are happy to see the change.

'Very cynical attitude'

"I'm sure there will be other conditions because this is in quite a sensitive conservation area.

"There are considerable problems in and around the church with car parking on the road so there may be a benefit to the church to see it being put to better use."

Howard Smith, a local historian and former chairman of the Weston-super-Mare Civic Society, said the matter had been going on for a long time and said it just seemed to be a "grotesque policy of dilapidation".

He said: "Let it get to a state where it is unserviceable. That means it doesn't get used therefore because it's not used it is not of any use.

"So why don't we turn it in to a car park by which we can generate a bit of money?

"It seems a very cynical attitude to have I think."

But Mr Ap Rees denied the council was being cynical.

He added: "There has been no interest in recent years in using them commercially as tennis courts.

"If there had been then arguably we would have been approached and that hasn't happened."

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