CSC Clubhouse and Community Building Update.
As you will be aware, back in 2011 and following consultation with the public, Croyde Surf Club embarked on a project to provide a clubhouse for its members and the wider community. Croyde Surf Club successfully negotiated the possible lease of the toilet block situated in Downend Carpark, Croyde. This was agreed by the Executive Committee of North Devon Council in March 2012 and Croyde Surf Club immediately drew up development plans and submitted these for planning approval. Planning permission was approved and the committee set about negotiating with the Council over the terms of lease.
At this time, the Council were adamant that Croyde Surf Club continue to provide toilet facilities to the general public but, at an annual cost of £6’000 per annum, was untenable for the club to commit to. Through further consultation it was agreed that a reduced toilet facility would be acceptable and the club produced different development plans. At the time, the carpark attendees that we charged with the oversee of the carpark and its landowners were concerned about the reduction in facilities. The landowners very generously offered the club to, not only pay for the annual upkeep of the public facilities, but also to pay for a larger building to truly accommodate our needs. The club was informed that this was to honour the wishes of their Grandmother, Mrs Killard-Levy who was a well-respected member of the community and who wished to see land retained within the community for public use.
Naturally the club was delighted with this news and submitted amendments to our current planning application, which was duly granted.
In 2014 the Executive Committee of the Council agreed to transfer the lease to the landowners on the proviso that the landowners provide a facility for Croyde Surf Club. Extensive work followed, with the Committee and a local solicitor acting on behalf to arrange terms of lease with the landowners and covenants with the Council. This was done using voluntary payments and donated time. Following months of hard work and necessary changes, all legal documents were agreed in principal and ready to sign.
Late 2015, the landowner had a change of heart and decided not to sign the documents. They informed us that they intended to redevelop the whole car parking site by providing various commercial facilities but ensured the club that we were still in their plans. They informed us that they would be drafting new and improved plans and that we would need to wait a short while to see these.
Throughout 2016 and early 2017, Croyde Surf Club were still optimistic that a deal would be done but despite numerous requests, no plans were ever divulged to the Club.
By pure chance in November 2017, the committee was made aware of the Councils intentions to sell to the landowners without any conditions on providing any public facilities. It came to light the landowner had approached the Council to buy the land outright without informing the Club and despite the club still having active planning permission on the site, the Council failed to inform the Committee. It had seemed on the outset that all of the work that Croyde Surf Club had done up until this point had been forgotten or ignored.
Representatives of Croyde Surf Club attended the Council Executive meeting whereby it was agreed to meet with all parties to attempt to conclude a deal involving all three parties. At a separate meeting with the Estates team and the landowners, Croyde Surf Club were finally shown plans from a year ago that did not feature the club in the new larger development. The Council at this stage gave the Committee two options of either striking a deal with the landowner or submitting a counter-proposal to themselves.
The Club in the interim received correspondence from the landowners offering a much smaller facility as part of this larger overall development and for a rental price that was 600% more than what was agreed in the terms of lease. As a result, Croyde Surf Club tabled a counter-proposal to purchase the toilet facilities for the same amount that the landowners offered. A sum of £50’000.
Despite communication with the Estates team at the Council and local Councillors, they rejected this proposal as they felt that the sale to Croyde Surf Club was not in the best interests of the community.
Croyde Surf Club are extremely disappointed by the Councils decision not to sell the building to us and do not agree with their reasons to sell to a private landowner. Croyde Surf Club are extremely grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from the community in trying to realise our dream and are indebted to a few individuals who have spent the last seven years trying to secure this facility for the public.
The Committee are motivated as ever and will continue to explore various avenues to provide a community building for us all.
Croyde Surf Club Trustees.