Market Square off the market at last

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The Peak District National Park Authority and Longnor Parish Council have saved village’s Market Square as an open space for the community.

Residents had feared that village life and businesses would suffer when the lease came up for renewal in 2009. The private landlords proposed a massive rent increase or parking charges if the Authority, which had been the leaseholder for more than 40 years, did not renew the lease.

The Authority had been in the process of challenging the proposed rent increase through the courts.

But the landlords were persuaded to sell the site to the Authority, and now Longnor Parish Council will lease it at a peppercorn rent.

The parish council, which helped finance the purchase, is relieved that it will at last control this historic feature at the centre of Longnor conservation area. It provides 20 free car parking spaces and a focus for village events.

The Authority’s head of property, Matthew Croney, said: “We’ve been working with Longnor Parish Council to achieve a solution that benefits the community, and it’s excellent news that residents will now be involved in managing it.”

Chair of Longnor Parish Council, Christopher Stevenson, said: “Having control of the Market Square is vital for the economy of our village. We would like to thank the national park’s strategic property officer Gillian Bellenie and her colleagues who have worked very hard throughout the negotiations.”

The Authority first took on the lease in 1967 from the then landowners, the Harpur Crewe estate, in order to ensure much-needed improvements which included replacing the earthen surface with stone setts. It tried to buy the site in the late 1990s but was outbid by two private individuals who did not live in the area.

Longnor Parish Council and the Village Action Group also applied to buy it in 2005-06, but were turned down.