Plans to improve a children's play area and create a public space in the north of Helston appear to have been stymied by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Helston Town Council has been working with residents of Trenance Close for the last three years on a scheme to develop the play area, which has fallen into a state of disrepair and is now an abandoned area of tarmac and shrubbery.

The council agreed to take over the land, in order to maintain it, with longer-term plans to be made in further conversations with residents.

However, after a question was raised by a member of the public over the ownership of the land, it was discovered that the land was in fact registered with the Duchy of Cornwall.

The council claimed the Duchy has subsequently refused to agree maintenance of the land but said it would only be willing to pass over the responsibility of it if sold at market value, with all fees paid by the purchaser - something that the town council cannot afford to do.

In a statement from the council it said: "The residents voted by a very clear majority that they would like to see the area improved.

"It was agreed by members that the best way forward would be for the land to be adopted and for maintenance to begin.

"After much investigation by planning and legal officers, it was discovered that the land was registered with the Duchy of Cornwall.

"This was because the original developer was declared bankrupt some time ago and in Cornwall under ancient laws such an asset immediately becomes part of the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

"Following lengthy communication by Cornwall Council officers with the Duchy, the Duchy acknowledged ownership but would not enter into any agreement for the maintenance of the land and would be only be willing to sell the land after a market valuation with all fees to be paid by the purchaser.

"Helston Town Council is not in a financial position to purchase this open space."

Helston councillor Mike Thomas, who is also a member of Cornwall Council, has spoken with county officers to see if the authority would be willing to buy the land, but was told there is no funding available.

"This is a disappointing situation, especially as Helston Town Council was willing to work with the Duchy of Cornwall and, at no cost to them, maintain an area of land that had previously been designated as a Helston community asset for the benefit of local residents, and specifically their children," added the council.

A spokesperson for the Duchy of Cornwall said: "Sadly we cannot provide a response a this moment in time, as this matter is still ongoing."