Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 18 June 2018

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure

 

Physic Garden, Cowbridge

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek approval for a new 99 year lease for the Physic Garden in Cowbridge to allow the Trustees to undertake long term planning of the site.

Recommendations

  1. That authority be granted to the Director of Environment and Housing in consultation with the Head of Finance to enter into a 99 year lease with The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust for the Cowbridge Physic Garden upon surrender of the existing lease.
  2. That the Head of Legal Services be authorised to prepare, complete and execute the required legal documentation.
  3. That delegated authority is granted to the Director of Environment and Housing in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Social Care and Leisure, to enter into a deed of dedication to provide Fields in Trust status to the Physic Garden with the agreement of the Cowbridge Physic Trust.
  4. That the Head of Legal Services be authorised to sign the deeds of dedication between the Council and Fields in Trust and register the same.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To allow The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust to undertake long term planning.
  2. In order to execute and complete the legal documentation.
  3. To progress the Formal dedication if necessary.
  4. In order to execute and complete the legal documentation relevant to a Fields in Trust dedication.

Background

  1. The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust, have been successfully managing the Physic Garden in Cowbridge for the last 12 years. A location plan of the garden is attached at Appendix A.  The group was originally granted a 25 year lease for the site. The trustees are however keen to safeguard the Garden for future generations.
  2. The Physic Garden has proved itself to be an asset to the community in Cowbridge.  It is open to the public every day of the year except Christmas day and is rarely empty of visitors.  It has proved to be a great attraction to photographers, art clubs and local charities who wish to use it for special events.
  3. The Trust aims to increase the number of visitors from further afield and to bring additional tourists to the area.  Twenty five Swiss gardeners have arranged a visit this summer and more and more group tours are being requested.  The garden features in a number of guides and garden books and is recognised as part of any tour of South Wales' gardens.  As a result of appearing in various publications, the garden has become a model for other organisations planning to set up a physic garden in this country and abroad and those who have visited have often sought the advice of the Trustees as to how to set up their own similar garden. The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust has also encouraged visits from schools and have worked with local schools, in liaison with Creative Rural Communities, to produce suitable materials which link in with the new curriculum for use by staff and pupils.  An example of this is school children from Bontfaen Primary School who have recently produced their own video of the garden.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust want to undertake long term planning to build on the success of the last twelve years.  For example, the Trustees are currently obtaining quotations for the resurfacing of the paths at a cost of £32,000 to £35,000 which should ensure their viability well beyond the duration of the current lease.  Some of the early planting also needs to be replaced, particularly trees which have outgrown their original position and there are garden structures that have to be renewed.
  2. The Trustees also need to retain current volunteers and members and when recruiting new Trustees, volunteers and members need to assure them of the long term viability of the garden and the commitment and support of the Council.  Most of the volunteers have been in their roles since the outset and there is a need now to recruit the next generation of volunteers and members. The Cowbridge Physic Garden Trust has been fortunate to be the recipient of several legacies from local people who have appreciated the garden.  It is hoped that donors will continue to be generous but this will only happen if they can be assured of the garden's long term future.
  3. The Trust, when establishing the Physic Garden, applied for a number of grants to enable it to set up the project and continue to investigate grant funding for future work.  However grant funding bodies inevitably require evidence of a long lease and certainly require a lease of longer duration that the current one.  The trust are therefore requesting a new lease of 99 years on surrender of the remainder of their existing lease.
  4. The Trust has been fortunate in obtaining the patronage of the Duchess of Cornwall  in recent years and enjoyed two visits from her.  Confirmation has recently been received that the Duchess of Cornwall is to renew her patronage for a further five years.  The Trust are also looking to contact Fields in Trust and would be willing to accept that in any new lease a covenant be placed on the land to ensure for future generations that the garden cannot be used for any purpose other than the creation and maintenance of a physic garden.  This would seem a sensible measure that would protect the area for the foreseeable future.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no direct resource implications associated with this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The new lease and potential dedication of the physic Garden will protect a much valued piece of green space in the centre of Cowbridge.  In addition, a dedication to Fields in Trust could increase future funding opportunities which could further enhance the amenity value.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. It will be necessary to agree terms and execute the 99 year Lease, together with the Deed of Dedication.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The Deed of Dedication may serve to reduce crime in the area by improving the status of these open spaces and increasing their uses by all sectors of the community.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The trustees of the Physic Garden are aware of the Council's commitment to equal opportunities and share the same values in the provision of the Physic Garden.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Working. Well-being Outcome 4: An Active and Healthy Vale:

Objective 7: Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles.

Work in partnership to deliver a range of activities through our leisure and community facilities and parks to increase levels of participation and physical activity.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Local Ward Member consultation has been undertaken and any comments received contrary to the recommendations will be tabled at Cabinet.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Healthy Living and Social Care

Background Papers

E-mail from Physic Garden Trust

Contact Officer

David Knevett - Operational Manager, Healthy Living and Performance

Tel: 01446 704 817

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager: Property

Legal Services - Committee Reports

Visible Services - Accountant

Operational Manager: Regeneration

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services.