May 2019 – the final Resolution
The Village Playground
As many of you will remember, when the impending closure of the school was announced the Parish Council undertook a comprehensive consultation to find out your views about the future of the school and the playground. We received direct responses from at least a third of the village, and a gratifying number of offers of financial and other support if we should need it.
Overall there was a strong feeling that the playground is a valuable village asset: it should not be sold, its traditional access route should not be changed, and for practical reasons it probably cannot be moved elsewhere. Several families with young children, as well as older ones with grandchildren, were particularly keen to retain it, while in general it was felt that the village needs to have facilities to keep it family-friendly and prevent it from becoming a child-free retirement village.
The basic problem has been that the Parish Council owns the playground, but access to it has traditionally been across land owned by the school, which is owned by the Chichester Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF). Our main concern has been to protect our right of access to the playground after the school land has been sold and presumably re-developed for some other use. The DBF clearly felt that this could affect their ability to sell the buildings, and were initially unwilling to grant us a formal right of way – a right to which we believed we were entitled through many years of unhindered use. However, establishing this right by litigation could potentially have been very costly.
Although it has taken many months of negotiations I am delighted to report that the DBF has now agreed to grant us a legally registered right of way to the playground, and all the necessary documents have now been signed by both parties and sent to the Land Registry.
We are confident that the future of the village playground and its access is now safe. For this we would like to thank you, the villagers of Rodmell, for telling us what you wanted, the DBF for being prepared finally to listen to you, and most especially our strike force of retired solicitors, Marcel Bradbury, Jill Goldman and Anne Sword-Daniels, without whose professional expertise this result would either have been vastly more expensive or more likely not have come to pass. We are also grateful to our Vicar, Marcus Brown, and the Parochial Church Council of Rodmell, who gave us their unstinting support throughout.