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FIGHT FOR OUR VILLAGE GREENS

December 20, 2011

Please do read this news release fron the OPEN SPACES SOCIETY. Support them today in their fight. Why not join?

TOP GREENS-CAMPAIGNER RESPONDS TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION’S ATTACK ON NEW VILLAGE GREENS

The Open Spaces Society(1) has responded robustly to an outburst from the Local Government Association (LGA) today (19 December) on new village greens.(2)

Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘The LGA has not produced hard evidence to back its allegation that people are applying for village green status in order to block development.

‘The LGA implies that this happens frequently.  In fact it is much more likely that, when developers threaten much-loved land, people realise that they have taken it for granted for too long, and want to secure their long-enjoyed rights there.  They can do this by applying to register the land as a town or village green.

‘We deplore proposals by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, backed by the LGA, to introduce a character test, whereby only those greens which conform with a subjective view of a “traditional” green, can be registered.  Local people should be able to register any bit of land, however out-of-the-way or scruffy, where they have enjoyed 20 years of informal recreation, without being stopped or asking permission.

‘The LGA seems to assume that applications to register land occupied by beach huts or a car park are false and vexatious—but local people can enjoy recreation around beach huts, and on a car-park when it is not being used for parking.  It’s all a matter of fact and degree.  These areas may be eligible for registration.

‘We consider that the ability to register any land where local people have accrued rights of recreation should be preserved.  If planning permission has already been granted or the land identified for development in a local plan, there should be a period of grace to enable people to submit their evidence of use as a green.

‘However, we have long advocated improvements to the registration process which do not involve changes in the law.  The LGA response to some extent chimes with our own proposals.

‘We have therefore written to ask the LGA for a meeting so that we can discuss our areas of agreement, and to see if we can jointly press for these improvements to the process,’ Kate concludes.

ENDS

Notes for editors

1.       The Open Spaces Society (formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society) was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them, throughout England and Wales.

2.       Land can be registered as a town or village green if it has been used by local people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ (ie informal recreation) for 20 years, freely and openly

Once registered, the land is protected from encroachment and development by section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876.  Local people have a right to enjoy the land for recreation.

__________________________________________________________

Kate Ashbrook

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

25A Bell Street

Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA

email: hq@oss.org.uk

website www.oss.org.uk

registered charity 214753

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