Councillor challenges sell off of local green open space next to city walls

Guildhall ward councillor, Denise Craghill, has written to the Council chief executive and other senior officers questioning the inclusion of an area of green open space next to Walmgate Bar in the current sale of Willow House, former Older Persons Home.

She says ‘This is a small area of land but it is more or less the only piece of open green space in this part of the city. Whilst Willow House has always had part of the outdoor area between the buildings and Walmgate fenced off as gardens, this area has always been open and functioned as part of the estate. It is also immediately adjacent to the recently refurbished historic Walmgate Bar.

The Council’s 2014 Open Space Study (part of the Local Plan evidence base) shows quite clearly that Guildhall ward in general is short of public open space. In this area in particular, which includes the Walmgate/Navigation housing estate, the only open space is provided by the green areas near the city walls and the Open Space Study shows the land in question as amenity open space. In practice it is the only publicly accessible area of open space on that side of Walmgate.

I have been told that, although I raised the matter earlier on, it was decided to include the area in the sale because it is part of the land “held’ by Adult Social Services and therefore should automatically be included. However, it unclear whether any consultation was done with housing department or community services regarding the value of the land for local residents. As far as I am aware ward councillors were not consulted.

This seems to me to be an example of the Council persisting in operating in a compartmentalised fashion that doesn’t put the interests of residents first but prioritises property sales and capital receipts above all else. I would like to know who was consulted before it was decided to include this land in the sale and I would like the Council to review the inclusion of this piece of land, which is after all a very small part of the whole site, in the course of discussions with interested parties.’

For some background study info on open spaces, see this document

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