• Campaigners slam ‘outrageous’ village green changes

    19th October 2012 | News | Claire
  • Provisions in the government’s new planning bill that reduce people’s rights to register and use local land as a village green are an ‘outrageous’ attack on local people’s rights, according to campaigners.

    It would also end people’s rights to apply to register land in England as a village green, if the application seemed to come in response to a “trigger event” such as a planning application in relation to the land or a development plan identifying the land for possible development.

    The government said the measure was intended to stop the “misuse of town and village green (TVG) applications to undermine planned development”. However, it insisted that the move would protect use of the applications “to safeguard cherished community spaces and ensure the protection of genuine town and village greens”.

    But Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, criticised the measures. She said: “The measures are aimed at dealing with vexatious applications but are far too oppressive and heavy-handed and will also have a severely detrimental effect on genuine applications. The provisions need to be targeted far more closely at the small minority of vexatious applications. It is outrageous that the rights of local people are being overridden in this way.”

    But Rebecca Warren of law firm Pinsent Masons welcomed the changes, saying that they would provide more certainty for developers.

    “Last minute TVG applications, often after permission is granted, create delay, increase the cost of promotion and blight sites,” she said. “Now an allocation in a Local Plan will create a form of safeguard, as will the grant of planning permission.”

    The amendment of village green registration procedures was one of the recommendations of the 2010 government review of non-planning consents led by Adrian Penfold of developer British Land, which was intended to find ways of streamlining the development consents process.

    In another response to the Penfold review, the bill would allow English planning authorities to stop up or divert a public right of way if they have received an application which, if granted, would necessitate such a step in order for the development to be carried out.