Playing field and car park

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Audlem Parish Council discussed at Monday night's meeting whether to go ahead with negotiations with Cheshire East about taking over responsibility locally for the playing field, tennis courts, children's playground and possibly the car park.

The Parish Council already has responsibility for the public toilets by the car park which it took over, refurbished and reopened two years ago, then the first case of devolving responsibility from the borough to a parish council in Cheshire East.

The PC agreed unanimously to negotiate with Cheshire East after issues relating to the ownership of the facilities had been clarified.

Councillor Mike Hill described how ownership had been established and that there were no covenants on future land usage although searches have not, as yet, found any deeds.

It appears that the land was owned by the Armstrong family who lived at Green Farm opposite Tollgate. A Miss Bell, a niece of the Armstrongs, is also important in the history.

For many years, the land now occupied by the playing field and car park had been leased to Shukers, Northens and Lesley R Edwards for agriculture.

100,000 acres

In 1964, it was suggested that Audlem needed a car park, with one newspaper report saying the painting of double white lines in the village centre made this all the more essential. It was also pointed out at a meeting of Nantwich Rural District Council, then the authority covering Audlem, that there was not one single public convenience in the rural district's 100,000 acres!

Despite some opposition, it was agreed facilities must be provided for local people and the motorist. Eighteen months later — nothing moved quickly on this issue then as now — the plan to provide a car park with toilets was given the go ahead. It was estimated that the cost — excluding the land purchase — would be in the region of £4,000.

Three acres

The land identified was three acres and was valued by the District Valuer at £1,600. It was purchased from Miss Bell by the RDC with Gandy of Winnington Hill, Northwich as the solicitors. Over subsequent decades the ownership passed from Nantwich RDC to Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council and in 2009 to Cheshire East Council.

Bernard Edwards, late of Audlem Parish Council, has advised that it is hearsay that there were any covenants. The land was sold cheaply so that the village could benefit.

Mike Hill thanked Paul Huntbach, Mrs Bate, Mr B Edwards and Bill Consterdine for all their help in researching the history as well the Nantwich Chronicle of that time.

Concern

There has been concern recently, as Cheshire East has been introducing charges for use of the field, that this could have a negative impact on the village events held on the field, even threatening the future of some.