Trowbridge Town Council is unlikely to ask the town's rugby club to repay £18,226 that it was given to provide a new children’s play area at Doric Park, it has been disclosed.

The town council’s leader Stewart Palmen said that although the council is yet to decide on the matter, the funds were offered “in good faith” during the negotiations for a 99-year lease to access the land for the failed Doric Park all-weather pitch project.

Councillors voted earlier this month to cancel the Doric Park 3G artificial pitch project after being told that construction costs had soared from £4.8 million to £6.6m, making it financially unviable.

The council had agreed a 99-year lease with Trowbridge RFC to use part of its Doric Park site, believed to relate to a strip of land between the rugby club pitches and the proposed new facility on the field next door.

Cllr Palmen said: “The offer was originally part of the lease negotiations with Trowbridge RFC over access to the field next to Doric Park and it was made in good faith.

“We are not looking to have that argument and my feeling is that the club should keep the funds we offered to provide the children’s play area.

“The club has received very little help in terms of grants and I think it’s time to draw a line under a project at Doric Park that has not happened.”

Wiltshire Times: Some of the play equipment at Trowbridge RFC's Doric Park children's play area. Photo: Trevor Porter 70533-2Some of the play equipment at Trowbridge RFC's Doric Park children's play area. Photo: Trevor Porter 70533-2 (Image: Trevor Porter)

His comments come after Conservative town councillor Antonio Piazza who has called on the Doric Park working group chair Cllr Mel Jacob to ask the club to repay the funds.

He recently wrote to Cllr Jacob saying: “As Chair of the Doric Park Working Group, are you able to inform councillors of the final outcome surrounding the £18,226 in Community Infrastructure Levy spent on the TRFC play area.

“This was initially part of the deal to secure the TRFC lease, present in the lease agreement terms, and the cost centre would have been the loan.

“Now that Doric Park has been cancelled, I am hoping that the money spent will be returned to the council as the lease will no longer be necessary.

“As you will know, there are Trowbridge Town Council play areas dotted around our town that are run down and in a terrible state.

“These play areas are accessible to all residents in the town, so for the town council to fund a private play area outside of our boundary in Hilperton, using CIL, where our own play areas are in ruin would be unacceptable. I hope that all councillors would agree with this sentiment.

“I would also be keen to understand the mechanism used to approve this funding before the lease had been signed.”

Council officers are now looking at alternative options to provide the all-weather pitch on other sites in Trowbridge.

The council was offered a £3.9m government loan for the project. It will lose the £488,000 Football Foundation Grant awarded specifically for the artificial turf facility.

So far, the council has spent £412,433.70 pursuing the project, including £78,000 of the original Section 106 Community Infrastructure Levy money used to purchase the land in 2013.

Cllr Jacob said: “We will now be discussing options for the future use of the land that the town council owns next to Doric Park for the provision of sports pitches and associated facilities with; Trowbridge Rugby Football Club, Wiltshire Council and neighbouring land owners and their agents.”

The town council will also hold talks with Wiltshire Council regarding any repayment of S106 funding allocated for the provision of sports pitches and associated facilities.