MORE than three years after opening negotiations with West Sussex County Council over the school playing field at Easebourne, parish councillors believe they are ready to sign a lease.
At an extraordinary meeting, members voted in favour of going ahead and signing a lease for the field.
In April the parish council intends to outline its community use plans for the seven-acre Wheelbarrow Castle field to villagers at the annual parish meeting.
The hope is first to move the playground from its present home next to the A272 and redesign it on the field.
The lease on the table with West Sussex County Council is for 25 years with an option to increase this to 50 years.
One of the terms of the lease is that a joint management committee would have to be set up to manage the field and the shared areas, including the shared access, and this would need to consist of members of the parish council and representatives of the primary school.
The parish council has earmarked £6,500 to cover the planning application to move the playground and to put up fencing around the field.
Before the debate, chairman of the parish council Adrian Revill outlined the history of the negotiations.
He said that in September 2011, the parish council started the discussions with the county council.
Two months later, the Easebourne Liaison Group was set up by county councillor Michael Brown, who represents Easebourne, Midhurst town council, Cowdray Estate and the primary school.
The following summer, Midhurst Rother College vacated the site, formerly Midhurst Intermediate School, which it had used while the new school was being built on the River Site in Midhurst.
In October 2012, Easebourne Primary School announced it would move from Easebourne Street to the Wheelbarrow Castle site and about the same time, the parish council steering group conducted a feasibility study into the implications of taking on the management of the field and possibly developing community facilities there.
In November 2012, the parish council agreed to ask the county council to grant a lease and the following March, its steering group reported earlier hopes that the Rotherfield Sports Association might want to move to the site, providing sports facilities for the village there would not go forward.
The association has now unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art multi-use pavilion at its current home, the Rotherfield Sports Ground.
In September 2013, the primary school opened on the Wheelbarrow Castle site after extensive renovation work on the former intermediate school buildings.
And in January last year, parish councillors began looking at the draft lease with the county council.