CLAIMS that a new £400,000 building in Trowbridge Town Park will be used for commercial activities and needs ‘change of use’ permission have been strenuously denied by the council’s chief executive.

The redesigned storage facility behind the bandstand will be used to store parks maintenance, machinery and equipment and Active Trowbridge vehicles and have toilets for staff use only.

This week Town Cllr Edward Kirk, who opposed the plans for the building from the start, claimed it would cost ‘over £500,000’ and be used “to a considerable extent” for commercial activities related to Active Trowbridge and leisure/community services.

He is angry that the new building and its toilets would not be accessible to the general public or community/charity groups.

Cllr Kirk said: “This includes town council vehicles used in commercial operations outside of the Trowbridge boundary, such as the minibus, Active Trowbridge sports vehicles and road sweeper.

“It is also a fact that events held by Active Trowbridge, both in and outside of the park, are mainly commercial in nature.

"It is my understanding this falls well outside of what can be considered community use and what is permitted within the realms of public open space.”

“In making the park a hub for our operations, we will be introducing a significant level of pollution, environmental, noise and vehicle pollution, into what is legally classified as public open space.”

Cllr Kirk said the council should apply for a change of use or alter the park storage development criteria as the council was not operating within the legal definition of community use and public open space.

Chief executive Lance Allan said: “Firstly, the park storage unit will not cost in excess of £500,000; it will cost less than £400,000.

“The cost is covered from developer contributions and community infrastructure levy and otherwise will cost no more than the ongoing cost of rent and rates for our alternative storage facilities.

“Secondly, the storage unit will not be used to a considerable extent for commercial activities.

“It will be used to store the street sweeper which costs the council a significant sum of money to provide a much-valued service to the whole community.

“The town council is in discussion with neighbouring parish and town councils about the possibility of sharing this community service and we will of course cover our costs in full if this happens.

“It will be used to store the Neighbourhood Services pick-up truck for our grounds maintenance activities, keeping our streets clean and tidy as well as recreation grounds and more than 25 play areas.

“It will be used to store the mini-bus which provides a valuable service to our range of sports and social groups in the community.

“It will be used to store the Active Trowbridge vans and equipment which provide valuable services to our local schools and young people throughout the year.

“These are not mainly commercial in nature they are charged for services which cover their costs outside Trowbridge and are subsidised in the town.“Thirdly, the area behind the band stand has been inaccessible to the public for all the time that anyone can remember and was always used for storage of vehicles, machinery and equipment. The area which is accessible to the public will be increased.”

“Prior to the changes all vehicles had to access the storage area through the main public park areas.“Once the storage facility is complete access will be from the highway adjacent to the Royal Mail yard and will not require access through the park, thereby in fact reducing pollution.

“Nothing that the town council is doing is illegal or contrary to the agreements in place.”