Wesley Terrace play area
Wesley Terrace play area

VILLAGE councillors are poised to agree a lease that will allow the revamp of a public play park to go ahead, despite their upset about the rent.

Residents have been working with Middleton-in-Teesdale Parish Council to improve Wesley Terrace Play Area. But to apply for grants for better equipment a longer lease is needed on the land, along with a small extension on the play park footprint.

At this month’s parish council meeting it was reported that the council was ready to strike a deal with the owner of the land, Middleton-in-Teesdale Educational Foundation.

The foundation would provide a lease of up to 25 years at £100 per annum for the first five years, increasing to £150 after that period with regular rent reviews. The parish council would also meet all legal costs.

However, Cllr Bob Danby said the foundation should not be asking for any money at all. He said: “I can’t believe they want £100 for that. I can’t believe they expect rent at all.”

Cllr Danby asked whether there should be one last chance at renegotiating the deal, suggesting £50 was more reasonable. However, parish chairman Andy Mitchell said: “We are where we are. We have exhausted negotiations. I would suggest we suck it up and accept it.”

Parish councillors said the only other option was finding a new site but they said this would set the project back many months.

Councillors agreed to “reluctantly” accept the rent agreement but wanted to find out more about the legal costs. Meanwhile, the working group, which is made up of parents and residents, is to be consulted on a proposal to

install outdoor gym equipment.

The Hub, in Barnard Castle, has five pieces of equipment that its managers say are surplus to requirements.

Because the gear was funded by the Lottery it cannot be sold so The Hub will donate it to Middleton-in-Teesdale. However, Cllr Michael Wallbank said: “It’s heavy duty outdoor equipment designed for older teens and adults. I don’t think it’s applicable for a children’s play area and I’m not sure how we would go about its removal.”

Other councillors agreed that it would probably be unsuitable but they said it was important that the working group was consulted first.