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Articles Related To works on commons

Unlawful building on Clapham Common must stop

  Lambeth Council has been unlawfully permitting large structures to be built on Clapham Common and the practice must stop.  We have been provided with advice from an eminent QC confirming that Lambeth Council has been flouting legislation designed to protect the borough’s parks and open spaces. Over recent years the council has allowed a number of events involving the erection of huge structures, usually surrounded by large enclosures.  In many cases the common has been left damaged as a result, and the council has received numerous complaints from residents and local groups, including the Friends of Clapham Common. As confirmed by the QC the council cannot permit these structures without first receiving ministerial consent from the Secretary of State …read more

Common land at East Pit, Neath Port Talbot, should be treasured not trashed

We have objected strongly to an application to develop common land at East Pit, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in Neath Port Talbot. Last month the county borough council approved plans from The Lakes at Rhosaman Ltd to extend the existing opencast site closer to communities.  The planning permission will allow coaling to take place until 30 September 2018 and restoration work, which involves turning the void caused by the opencast work into a massive lake, will continue until 31 March 2020.  The proposed development also includes an outline application to erect a 120-bedroom hotel, holiday lodges, dive centre, shops, roads and other associated works.   Much of this is on registered common land. The society is among the many objectors to the scheme.   Although …read more

Building on Anglesey common shows need for new local-authority duty on commons

We are dismayed that Anglesey County Council has refused to take enforcement action against unlawful works on registered common land at Glanrafon, Llangoed. In March this year we wrote to Mrs Dilys Lowe, the owner of common land at Glandwr Cottage, Glarafon, to ask her to stop building a bungalow on the common.  Mrs Lowe has not replied. Mrs Lowe has planning permission but has been told by Anglesey County Council and others that is it unlawful unless she obtains the consent of the Welsh Ministers either for works on common land, or to exchange the common for other suitable land.  She apparently ignored this advice and sent in the diggers to start laying the foundations for her new house.  …read more

Improved scheme at Whitwell Common, Norfolk

We are pleased to have won improvements to a scheme, proposed by the Whitwell Common Trust, to fence part of the common near Reepham in Norfolk. The trust proposed to fence the common to enable the fen habitat to be grazed by livestock, in the interests of biodiversity.  The society was concerned that the fencing would be permanent and asked for the consent to be limited to 15 years so that its efficacy could be reviewed.  It also wanted there to be more access points on the road which runs between Reepham and the Fakenham Road.  The public has the right to walk and ride over the whole common. After an exchange of correspondence, the trust agreed to make the …read more

Lord Eversley’s message to members, 19 July 1915

One hundred years ago, on 19 July 1915 the fiftieth anniversary of the society’s foundation, our president and chairman Lord Eversley gave an address to the members.  It is published in a 16-page booklet marked, for some reason, ‘confidential’.  Here is a summary of what he said. On the 19th of July, 1865, fifty years ago to a day, the first Meeting of the Commons Preservation Society was held, at which I was elected its Chairman.  I have held that position continuously with the exception of short intervals when, as a member of Mr. Gladstone’s Government, it was inconsistent with my official duties that I should do so. He goes on to name others who were involved, such as Mr Fawcett, …read more

Private garage refused on Cornwall common

The Planning Inspectorate has rejected an application from Mr Robert George to build a domestic garage on registered common land at Carnkie, Wendron, near Helston in Cornwall. We were the sole objector to the application. The inspector, Mr Richard Holland, ruled that ‘the proposed garage, which is for wholly private benefit, will unacceptably interfere with the public’s right to access the whole of the common; this objection is decisive’. He added: ‘The proposed garage will also harm the interests of anyone wishing to exercise their right to graze and take produce from the common should they wish to do so.’ We are pleased that the inspector has upheld the public interest. We have the right to enjoy this common, and …read more

South Wales commons saved from industrial development

We are overjoyed that the Welsh Government has rejected applications by RWE Innogy Ltd to erect wind-turbines and other structures on Mynydd y Gwair and adjoining commons, eight miles north of Swansea.  The decision follows a public inquiry last year. The developers wanted to erect 16 wind turbines, an access track, electricity transformers, crane hard-standings, construction compound, anemometer and other structures on the commons and had been given planning permission by Swansea Council.  Because the proposal would have taken common land, they had in addition to win the consent of the Welsh Government for works on common land (under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006) and exchange of common land (under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006).  These …read more

Commercial camping development on national park common is rejected

The Planning Inspectorate has rejected an application from Woodland Property Services to erect 10 camping pods (wooden cabins on post-mounted bases) on Blawith Common in the Lake District National Park. The society, with the Friends of the Lake District, the Lake District National Park Authority, Blawith and Subberthwaite Parish Council, Blawith and Subberthwaite Commoners’ Association and Natural England, opposed the application for works on common land, which is near Ulverston in Cumbria. The inspector, Mr Richard Holland, ruled that the development would ‘unacceptably harm the interests of the graziers and the natural beauty of the national park, and hinder the public’s access over, and its enjoyment of, the common’. He therefore rejected the application. It was clear that the application …read more

Withdrawal of Stevenage common enclosure plans

Stevenage Borough Council has heeded our advice and has withdrawn its application to fence off part of Norton Green Common. The common is on the south-west side of Stevenage in Hertfordshire, immediately to the west of the A1(M). The council had applied to the Secretary of State for Environment for consent to erect a fence on the common to enable it to be grazed for nature-conservation reasons. The society objected because the fence, on the southern part of Norton Green Common would restrict public access, interfering with the public’s rights to walk and ride there. It would be a physical and psychological barrier, spoiling people’s enjoyment of the land. The society complained that the council had failed to consult interested …read more

Wind turbines rejected on Rooley Moor, Rochdale

Rochdale Borough Council has refused planning permission to Coronation Power Ltd for 12 wind turbines and other infrastructure on Rooley Moor. The council rejected the application on a number of grounds. It considered that the development would be inappropriate in the green belt and it would have a detrimental impact on the wild and tranquil landscape character of Rooley Moor, and on the amenity of users of the public rights of way in the vicinity. This is an excellent result. The development was proposed on common land where walkers and horse-riders have rights of free access and can enjoy the expansive views. The turbines would have been a severe blot on the landscape. It is a relief that the council …read more

Lake District park authority rejects second attempt to develop White Moss common

We are delighted that the Lake District National Park Authority has once again rejected plans for the development of White Moss, on the A591 between Rydal Water and Grasmere in Cumbria. Jim Lowther, brother of the eighth Earl of Lonsdale who is custodian of the family’s estate, had applied to develop common land at White Moss, where the public has rights to walk and ride. This followed the rejection of a similar scheme last November. The plan included the development of commercial visitor facilities with a car-park, an ugly ‘Welcome Hub’, bike hire and events. The park authority rejected the plan on the grounds that it conflicted with a number of national park policies and the building ‘would cause harm …read more

We fight access track across historic common

We have objected to plans for an access track across common land at Newbiggin, near Penrith in Cumbria. The common is known as ‘public watering place’ and has a number of springs with a series of ancient stone troughs and culverts. The common was featured in the Friends of the Lake District’s Our Green Space project which was also a runner-up for our 2012 Open Space Award. Thomas Armstrong (Construction) Ltd wants to build affordable housing adjacent to the common and has applied for an access track across the common. The housing does not have planning consent, nor is the site allocated in the Eden Local Plan. We object most strongly to this proposed degradation of the common. It is …read more

New book to celebrate our commons

We have published a new book, Common Land, to celebrate the ancient common land of England and Wales. It is written by our chairman Graham Bathe. Says Graham: ‘Most of us are familiar with commons. We may have played on them when young and visit them with our own children. Commons are woven into our culture and are of great beauty and grandeur. They are relics of the magnificent landscapes that once covered much of the countryside. They stretch back into history, to the very dawn of farming itself. ‘Now commons provide many opportunities for enjoyment, and because they extend from cities like London and Newcastle to the great moors of the Brecon Beacons, Lake District and Dartmoor, nobody is …read more

Unfair land swap on Cornish common

We have objected to plans to swap common land at Pendarves Woods Common, a mile south-west of Camborne in Cornwall. Earlier this year Mr Robert Weedon applied to the Secretary of State for Environment for retrospective consent for works on common land: part of a sand-school, parking areas and track, fuel pumps and tank, and post-and-rail fencing. The works had been constructed over a period since 2008. The society and others objected and he withdrew the application and instead applied to offer some land in exchange for the common which has been unlawfully developed. The society has objected to the new application because the proposed replacement land is inferior to that to be taken. The matter is determined by the …read more

We object to abuse of St John’s Lye common, Woking

We have responded angrily to Woking Borough Council’s consultation about car-parking on St John’s Lye Common, south-west Woking, Surrey. Local residents had complained about the inadequate parking after the opening of the new St John’s memorial hall and the council proposed to provide car-parking spaces on the common. The options are for the extension onto the common of the existing car-park to take an additional 22 cars, or an informal parking area for 28 cars on the common a bit further away. We are dismayed that both options take common land. The council has not troubled to find a solution which avoids the common. We consider this to be an abuse of common land, which is for public recreation and …read more

We say ‘no’ to the Lowthers

The society has once again objected to renewed plans by the Lowther Estate to develop White Moss Common next to the A591 between Rydal Water and Grasmere in the Lake District National Park. Last year the estate applied for a visitor centre and hierarchy of routes at the existing car-park but the Lake District National Park Authority’s members rejected the plans, overturning the advice of their officers. Now, Jim Lowther, brother of the eighth Earl of Lonsdale who is custodian of the family’s 117-square-mile estate, is trying again to win this development. Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary, says: ‘This application is very similar to the one which was rejected by the authority last November. It is still proposed to take …read more

We call on landowner to stop destroying Anglesey common

We have called on Mrs Dilys Lowe, the owner of land at Glandwr Cottage, Glanrafon, Llangoed in Anglesey, to stop building a bungalow on registered common land. Mrs Lowe has planning permission for the bungalow but has been told by Anglesey County Council and others that the work is unlawful unless she obtains the consent from the Welsh Minister for works on common land under the Commons Act 2006. Mrs Lowe is apparently ignoring the advice and has sent in the diggers to start laying foundations for her new house. We have written to Mrs Lowe calling on her to halt the work forthwith. Says Kate Ashbrook, the society’s general secretary: ‘Common land is an immensely important part of our …read more

Lake District fencing plan conflicts with special Act of Parliament

We believe that plans by United Utilities for 10 kilometres of fencing above Thirlmere in the heart of the Lake District National Park conflict with a special law for the area. Because the land is common, UU has applied for consent to the Planning Inspectorate for works on common land. The society believes that the fencing, if erected, could be unlawful, even if the Planning Inspectorate gives approval. The society won clauses in the 1879 Manchester Corporation Waterworks Act which give the public the right of access over these fells, and state that the access ‘shall not be in any manner restricted or interfered with by the Corporation [now UU].’ Says Kate Ashbrook, our society’s general secretary: ‘Back in 1878 …read more

We fight land swap for Beverley’s ancient common

We have objected to plans by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to swap land on Beverley Westwood Common for a site at Fishwick Mill, to the eastern border of the common. Because commons are special, the law (section 16 of the Commons Act 2006) requires that suitable exchange land is provided when a common is taken for another purpose. In this case the council wants to construct a footway and cycletrack on the common. In offering substitute land the council must take account of the interests of the neighbourhood and the public interest. We do not consider that these interests have been met. The replacement land is already open to the public and has for decades been used and …read more

Retrospective application for works on Cornish common

We have objected to a retrospective application for works on Pendarves Woods Common, a mile south-west of Camborne in Cornwall. The application from Mr Robert Weedon is for part of a sand-school, parking areas and track, fuel pumps and tank, and post-and-rail fencing. The works were constructed over a period since 2008. Before anyone can erect a work on common land, he or she must get the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment. For works which are in the public interest the application is made under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, for those in the private interest the applicant must provide land in exchange using section 16 of the Commons Act 2006. Mr Weedon has applied …read more

Pressure groups fight fencing plan in Lake District’s wilderness

We are backing our member the Friends of the Lake District in fighting a plan by United Utilities to erect fencing on common land in the heart of the Lake District National Park. United Utilities has applied to erect nearly ten kilometres of new fencing at the South Western end of Thirlmere, enclosing 866 hectares (more than three square miles) of wild fellside. It would run along the boundary of Whelpside, Steel End, West Head, Armboth, Bleaberry and Wythburn Fells Common. UU claims that it needs to reduce stock grazing to reduce the amount of eroded vegetation being washed into watercourses. We strongly object to this intrusion into this wild, unspoilt landscape of the Lake District National Park. Not only …read more

Commons and the Law training workshop from the Chilterns Commons Project

‘Commons are the jewels of the Chilterns,’ declares Nicola Hodgson, our case officer, who is today giving presentations at a workshop at Naphill, Bucks, on the range of legislation which affects common land. The training workshop, Commons and the Law, is part of the Chilterns Commons Project and is for all those involved with the management of commons, including site managers, landowners, parish councils and volunteers from local groups. The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has around 200 commons ranging from strips of grass verge to rolling hectares of wild, flower-rich grassland and woodland. Says Nicola: ‘Common-land law is complex and I welcome the opportunity to help those managing commons to gain a better understanding of the legislation. I …read more

Lake District Park Authority rejects ‘Legoland’ development at White Moss

The Lake District National Park Authority’s Development Control Committee today rejected plans for the development of White Moss. Jim Lowther, brother of the eighth Earl of Lonsdale who is custodian of the family’s estate, had applied to develop common land at White Moss on the A591 between Rydal Water and Grasmere. The committee members, by 12 votes to 2, refused permission, overturning the recommendation of planning officers to approve the development. Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘We are highly relieved that committee members upheld national park principles and recognised the damage that this money-making scheme would cause.  Jim Lowther wanted to create a new “welcome hub” offering food drink and various retail outlets, improve the car-park and make defined …read more

Hendy wind-turbines conflict with law to protect public rights

The society has discovered new information which could jeopardise the Hendy wind-turbine development in outstanding countryside in rural Radnorshire. The land on which Hendy Wind Farm Ltd proposes to erect at least four of the seven turbines, near Llandegley Rocks, Llandrindod Wells, was inclosed by an order for Hendy Bank made in 1885 which provided for permanent public access on the site. Furthermore, the company, in taking part of the adjoining common land to create an access for heavy construction vehicles, is obliged to offer suitable land in exchange. The exchange land is also awarded land (Llandegley Rhos, 1885). This means the public already has a right to walk there and the exchange offers nothing. Says Kate Ashbrook, our general …read more

We fight devastation of Radnorshire’s jewel

We have objected to two applications from Hendy Wind Farm Ltd to devastate Llandegley Rhos Common for a wind-farm on adjoining land. The company wants to build seven wind-turbines on land to the west of the common, obliterating the view to the striking Llandegley Rocks, five miles east of Llandrindod Wells. Because it intends to create access-tracks for heavy construction-vehicles across the common, the company needs the consent of the Welsh Government for works on, and exchange of, common land, in addition to planning permission. Llandegley Rhos Common is a jewel in the crown of Radnorshire. It should be retained as an entity, for its beauty, landscape qualities and wildlife habitats and for public enjoyment. Instead it could become an …read more

Peer’s development plan threatens Lake District World Heritage status

Jim Lowther, brother of the eighth Earl of Lonsdale, who is custodian of the family’s 117-square-mile estate, is planning to develop common land at White Moss on the A591 between Rydal Water and Grasmere at the heart of the poet Wordsworth’s countryside.  The Lowther estate stretches across Cumbria from Penrith to the Howgill fells—some of the most beautiful and inspiring scenery in Britain. The scheme has been recommended by the Lake District National Park’s planning officers and will come before the park’s Development Control Committee on Wednesday 5 November. Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, says: ‘This grandiose money-making scheme for improved car parks, strategically planned and defined tracks and trails centred on a new “welcome hub” offering food drink and …read more

A blight on Hackney Marshes

We have objected to plans from the London Borough of Hackney to develop part of Hackney Marshes (East) for a car park and (North) for a pavilion with car park.  We are backing our member the Hackney Marshes User Group which has for some time been protesting about the proposals.  The marshes are registered common land and we have written to the Planning Inspectorate objecting to the application for works on the common. The developments will take away green space from the public and will suburbanise the area.  The car parks will create noise and pollution and are unnecessary when there is good local transport and alternative car parks nearby.  The pavilion will be for a limited sector of the public whereas …read more

Beverley Westwood exchange-plan ditched

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has ditched its plans to swap land on the ancient Beverley Westwood Common for a small piece on the northern edge.  This was to accommodate a cycle track across the common. Because there were objections to the swap, the Planning Inspectorate was to hold a hearing on 28 October, but this has been cancelled with the council’s announcement that it is abandoning this plan. We are relieved that this scheme is dead.  We opposed the exchange because the replacement land was remote and largely inaccessible, on the far side of what is believed to be an ancient boundary of the common.  The land to be taken for the cycle track was across the middle …read more

Unwelcome development on Lake District common

The Lowther Estate wants to develop White Moss Common next to the A591 between Rydal Water and Grasmere in the Lake District National Park. The estate proposes to create a visitor centre and hierarchy of routes at the existing car-park and has submitted a planning application to the Lake District National Park Authority (ref 7/2014/5399). The society and the Friends of the Lake District are among the objectors. We are dismayed that the Lowther Estate seems not to recognise that this is registered common land and that any works here require, in addition to planning consent, the approval of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The fact that …read more

Delight that Dartmoor eyesores have gone

Five kilometres of ugly poles and power-lines on Walkhampton Common, south-west Dartmoor, have been removed. Because the land is common, Western Power Distribution obtained consent last year under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 for the works. We supported the application. The beautiful open landscape of Walkhampton Common in the Dartmoor National Park has been blighted for decades by the overhead lines which run from Devil’s Elbow to Peek Hill. We have campaigned with the Dartmoor Preservation Association and others for their removal. The Dartmoor National Park Authority identified this line in the 1980s as a priority. We are delighted that the landscape has at least been freed from this eyesore and we can once again enjoy the open, …read more

Private-parking plan rejected on Surrey common

The Planning Inspectorate has rejected plans by the Shere Manor Estate to create parking spaces on Hurtwood Common near Holmbury St Mary in Surrey. This was to be in connection with the housing development proposed for the former Hollybush Tavern. The development had been granted planning permission in January 2013 but, because the works were to be on common land, the estate also needed the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (delegated to the Planning Inspectorate). We objected because the works were of purely private benefit and would conflict with the public’s use and enjoyment of the common. They involved levelling a steep bank and clearing the vegetation and would have suburbanised this attractive …read more

Waverley Council to rethink future of Haslemere Common

We are delighted that Waverly Borough Council has decided to defer plans to refurbish Wey Hill Fairground common at Haslemere in Surrey. The land is currently used as a car-park. The council applied for consent for works on the common, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. We and many others, including the Haslemere Society, objected. After the public inquiry had been arranged, the council withdrew the application so as to rethink its plans. Now Waverley is waiting for Haslemere Town Council and Haslemere Vision, the neighbourhood forum, to consider the borough council’s proposals as part of the wider neighbourhood plan and to come up with their own suggestions for the site. We have always felt that it was …read more

Remove unlawful fence on Nottinghamshire common

We hope that Nottinghamshire County Council will take enforcement action against an unlawful fence on Hanging Hill Lane Common, Normanton-on-Trent. The common is a long strip, consisting of Hanging Hill Lane and a broad verge on either side. The verge is used by walkers and for access to adjoining fields, and the fence encloses part (68 square metres) of this land and prevents public access there. Any works on common land need the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, via the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The occupants of an adjoining property, Skegby Manor Cottages, applied to replace the existing fence with a brick wall topped with a timber …read more

Circuit of Wales developers withdraw application for works on common

The Heads of the Valley Development Company has withdrawn its application for works on Trefil-Las and Twyn Bryn-March Commons at Rassau, Blaenau Gwent.  We were one of the objectors. Last week the Planning Inspectorate called a public inquiry into the works which were proposed ahead of the prospective Circuit of Wales motor-racing development itself.  The company had applied to the Welsh ministers for consent to carry out major works on the common (haul roads, trenches and drains, stockpiles of excavated material and fencing), under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The company is looking for land to offer in exchange for the 340 hectares of common land which it wants to take for the development.  It will need ministers’ …read more

Circuit of Wales: public inquiry into development on common land

We are delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has called a public inquiry into plans by the Heads of the Valley Development Company Ltd to develop common land at Rassau, Blaenau Gwent. These works are proposed ahead of the prospective Circuit of Wales motor-racing development itself. The company has applied to the Welsh ministers for consent to carry out major works on the common. The public inquiry is scheduled for 24 June and will last for four days. If the Circuit of Wales development is to go ahead, the company will need the ministers’ consent to deregister about 340 hectares of common land and to give suitable land in exchange. The company has not yet submitted this application and so the …read more

Hedge removed from Goose Green common

Surrey member Hugh Craddock reports a success in waking up a district council to its duties under the Commons Act 1899. Many commons in west Surrey were put into schemes of regulation and management under the 1899 act by rural district councils in the first half of the twentieth century; Waverley Borough Council is now responsible. But in 2004, Waverley decided to withdraw from management of the 72 hectares of scheme commons to save money. Recently I noticed that the owner of a cottage on Goose Green, part of Selhurst Common near Bramley, had planted a laurel hedge dividing the green in front of his house from the road. Waverley initially refused to take any action. However, I showed that …read more

Unfair exchange at Beverley Westwood Common

We have objected to plans by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to swap land on Beverley Westwood Common for a small piece on the northern edge. This is to accommodate a cycle track across the common. The law (section 16 of the Commons Act 2006) requires any exchange of common land to take account of the interests of the neighbourhood and the public interest. We do not consider that these interests have been met. The replacement land is remote and largely inaccessible. On race days it cannot be reached by the route over the race course and, in any case, it is currently closed for renovation. In wet weather the alternative route is extremely muddy. The replacement land is …read more

We call on local councils to help rescue green spaces

We have urged local councils to be active in rescuing green spaces in their communities. Our case officer, Nicola Hodgson, was addressing the Society of Local Council Clerks’ national conference for practitioners near Derby on 1 March. She spoke on the threats to town and village greens, common land and open spaces, and what local councils can do to protect them. Nicola presented a four-point plan for local councils. She said: ‘Local councils are uniquely placed to protect open spaces for public enjoyment. Open spaces are under threat of development and the government has relaxed the laws intended to protect them. Here are some things that clerks may, with the authority of their local council, do. 1 Register land which …read more

Fencing on Hunsdon Mead common is approved

The Planning Inspectorate has approved an application from the Herts and North Middlesex Wildlife Trust for fencing on Hunsdon Mead Common in Essex. The trust applied to erect a permanent, 1,000-metre fence along the line of the towpath boundary of the common to prevent disturbance of sheep grazing the common. We objected because the fence will separate the towpath from the rest of the common, yet the public has the right to walk over the whole area.  The fence will have an adverse impact on the open nature of the area.  Also we feared that the fencing will lead to conflicts between users on the towpath because the path is fairly narrow.  We argued that the trust should aim to …read more

We oppose fencing on Bowland common

We have objected to an application from the Yorkshire Burnmoor Graziers to erect fencing on common land, alongside Mewith Lane near Bentham in North Yorkshire. The common is within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The society objects because the fence will enclose the lane which currently crosses open country. The fence will give a closed-in feeling and will be an eyesore. The site offers fine views of at least two of the Three Peaks—Ingleborough and Peny-y-Ghent. The fence will destroy the open feeling of this landscape, cutting off a smaller area to the north of the lane from the rest of the common. People have the right to walk over the whole area, and the proposed …read more

Industrial development on South Wales common

We have slated plans by the Heads of the Valley Development Company Ltd to develop common land at Rassau, Blaenau Gwent, ahead of the prospective Circuit of Wales motor-racing development. The company has applied to the Welsh ministers for consent to carry out major works on the common. If the Circuit of Wales development is to go ahead, the company will need the ministers’ consent to deregister about 340 hectares of common land and to give suitable land in exchange. The company has not yet submitted this application and so the future of the motorsports development remains uncertain. But regardless of this, the company is now seeking consent for buildings, haul roads, car-parking, trenches and drains, stockpiles of excavated material …read more

We object to private use of Surrey common

We have objected to plans by the Shere Manor Estate to construct four parking-spaces on The Hurtwood common, near Holmbury St Mary in Surrey.  This is to provide parking for the future occupiers of properties created from the conversion of The Hollybush tavern. Because the works are on common land, they require the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, and the society is notified of all such applications. The society has objected because the works are of purely private benefit, and will conflict with the public’s use and enjoyment of the common.  The proposal would involve levelling a steep bank and clearing the vegetation.  It would …read more

New plan for golf-course on national-park common

We have objected to a new planning application, from Old Thorns Golf and Country Club, to create a golf-course on a heathland common near Liphook in the South Downs National Park. The golf course will be highly damaging to the superb landscape of the area and people’s enjoyment of it. The development will also interfere with the rights of the public to walk over the whole common. The applicants seem to dismiss these rights as unimportant. Heathland commons are especially important for their wildlife habitats which are rapidly diminishing. The golf course will interfere with the rights of graziers whose stock do good work in maintaining the heathland habitat. The applicants are surely aware that, even if they obtain planning …read more

We back Friends of Putney Common’s court action

We have pledged financial support for the Friends of Putney Common’s appeal-court action to save the common from road-building. The Friends, a member of OSS, are appealing against the high court’s refusal to stop the Wimbledon and Putney Common Conservators, owner of the common, from allowing Wandsworth Council to build private roads on Putney Lower Common to give access to new development on the former Putney Hospital site. The conservators are to receive £350,000 from the council in access fees. The proposal also involves conversion of grass footpaths to gravel or tarmac with overhead lighting. We are pleased to support the Friends in their excellent campaign. If the plans go ahead part of the common will be destroyed and the …read more

We fight devastation of Swansea commons

We have sent a strong objection to plans to build 16 wind turbines with associated infrastructure on Mynydd y Gwair and adjoining commons, eight miles north of Swansea. RWE npower renewables has planning permission for the development but, because it is to be sited on registered common land, the developer needs the additional consent of Welsh ministers for works on, and exchanges of, common land. We have objected to the company’s proposal to swap land in the heart of the common with inferior land on the edge, so that the land on which the turbines and associated access track, electricity transformers, crane hardstandings, construction compound and other structures would be sited is taken out of the common. In addition, the …read more

Ancient Warwickshire landscape saved

We are delighted that Galley Common, Nuneaton in Warwickshire has been saved from housing development. We were among the objectors to a planning application from A R Cartwright Ltd for 130 houses with associated infrastructure on land north of Tunnel Road. Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council refused the application in December 2012, the applicant appealed and a public inquiry was held in September. On 22 November the inspector, Paul Griffiths, rejected the application because it would destroy the historic landscape of ridge-and-furrow fields and hedgerows, which were probably medieval in origin. We were particularly concerned that the houses would destroy the route of the promoted Centenary Way long-distance footpath. This 98-mile route was invented by Warwickshire County Council to celebrate …read more

Charlton Common saved: developers withdraw road-proposal

Redrow Homes has withdrawn its proposal to build a 6.4-metre-wide road with a three-metre-wide pedestrian and cycle lane across Charlton Common in South Gloucestershire.  The application was in connection with adjoining development. The public inquiry, due to start on 26 November, has been cancelled.  The inquiry opened in April and was immediately adjourned.  The room at the BAWA Club, Filton, was overflowing with objectors from Southmead, Brentry and Henbury, who had not been consulted about the plans and who were angry at what was proposed. Because the road was to be built across common land,) Redrow Homes needed consent from the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, as well as planning permission. We were one of …read more

Lincoln stalwart retires

Mick Commons has recently resigned from the Lincoln City Commons Advisory Panel on which he served as the society’s representative for nearly 30 years. Mick, a professional footballer, became interested in the commons when he kept horses there. The committee was established thanks to the society’s opposition to the city council’s Lincoln City Council Bill in 1984. The bill gave the city management powers over its three commons (West Common, South Common and Cow Paddle). We lobbied successfully for a committee to advise on the commons’ management, on which the society would be represented — without this the commons might have been lost to development. We also won a formal undertaking from the council that it would review annually the …read more

No authority for alien hedge on Hertfordshire common

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has refused consent to Mr James Wright for a conifer hedge on registered common land at the former Old Chequers pub near Flamstead in Hertfordshire. The society and Flamstead Parish Council were among the nine objectors to the application for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The 97-metre long hedge has already been planted and therefore the application was retrospective. It was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in October 2011 but Mr Wright appealed to the court and the decision was quashed. The application was reconsidered by the Planning Inspectorate and the decision was made by Alison Lea on behalf of the environment secretary. …read more

Further fencing allowed on Allendale Common, Northumberland

We are sorry that the Planning Inspectorate has approved two miles of fencing alongside the east side of the Allendale/Carrshield road in Northumberland, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Such works need the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The application was made by the Allendale Stinted Pasture Graziers’ Association, in connection with a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) for grazing the common in the interests of biodiversity. The society objected because the proposed fence would be an eyesore in the landscape, and fencing on both sides of the road would create a tunnel effect. The public has the right to walk and …read more

We object to ice-cream van on Bristol Downs

We have objected to an application from Bristol City Council to site an ice-cream van on common land at Clifton Down, Bristol. The council has applied for consent for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, to construct an asphalt surface, on the corner of Observatory Road and Suspension Bridge Road, near the Clifton Suspension Bridge, to accommodate an ice-cream van. We have pointed out that the whole common is governed by the Clifton and Durdham Downs (Bristol) Act 1861 which requires the downs to be maintained as open space for public recreation. An ice-cream van is a commercial venture, and should not be sited on common land. It is an unwelcome intrusion in this …read more

Welsh ministers refuse private works on Aberdovey Common

We are delighted that the Welsh ministers have refused consent to Mr J T Dudley to build a garage and boat store with ancillary development on Aberdovey Common in the Snowdonia National Park. Although the national park authority approved the development in January, Mr Dudley needed the consent of the Welsh ministers for works on the common, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. We objected because commons exist for public enjoyment and the works were for purely private purposes. The public has the right to walk and ride over the whole common. Mr Alan Beckett, on behalf of the Welsh ministers, agreed with this view. He noted that ‘the purpose of the Commons Act 2006 is to safeguard …read more

We object to council plans for Haven Green Common, Ealing

We have backed our member The Friends of Haven Green in opposing plans from Ealing Council to widen footways across Haven Green Common. Because the works are on common land, the council needs the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The society and the Friends have objected because we believe the widened footways will suburbanise the common. We are also concerned that the council wants to swap the land currently occupied by the bus layby on the north-east side of the common for the land to be used for widening the footway, but the bus layby is already common land so this is not a fair …read more

Good outcome for Lobden Common, Lancashire

We are relieved that the Planning Inspectorate has imposed conditions on the Lobden Golf Club’s proposed upgraded road across Lobden Common, Whitworth in Lancashire, to mitigate its adverse effect on the common. Lobden Golf Club wanted to upgrade and tarmac the road in front of the golf club. Because this is on common land, the club was required to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. We objected, along with our member Mr Philip Ham, because the route is an ancient track — part of the Pennine Bridleway long-distance path — which has been traffic-free for ever, and the proposed works would destroy the natural …read more

Development approved on Llanberis common

We are dismayed that Gwynedd Council’s planning committee has yesterday (2 September) approved a pump-storage power-station on common land at Glyn Rhonwy quarry above Llanberis, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. In objecting, we called on Gwynedd Council to ensure the developer, The Quarry Battery Co Ltd from London, was aware that works cannot be constructed on common land without the consent of the environment minister, in addition to any planning permission. We pointed out that the applicant needs to offer common land in exchange for the land to be taken, and that the exchange land must be at least as beneficial to the neighbourhood and the public (section 16 of the Commons Act 2006) and have the …read more

Minister rules that ‘Circuit of Wales’ development will not be called in

We are distressed that Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Housing and Regeneration in the Welsh Government, has ruled that the application for the ‘Circuit of Wales’ motor-racing centre will not be called in, but left for Blaenau Gwent Council to determine as it sees fit. The council has already granted outline consent to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company’s application last month. We were deeply disappointed when, a fortnight ago, the environmental body Natural Resources Wales unexpectedly withdrew its request for a call-in.  We are asking questions about this under the Freedom of Information Act. We were among the objectors who wrote to the minister, urging him to call the application in because of its national significance.  We consider …read more

Picket Mead Common to be dug up

We are disappointed that the Welsh ministers have agreed that Carrington Moore Estates can dig up Picket Mead Common at Newton, Swansea, in connection with planning permission for adjoining development. Carrington Moore Estates, in which the former Welsh rugby captain Andy Moore has an interest, want to bury underground services (electricity, gas, water, telecoms and drainage) and lay grasscrete on the common, in connection with their planning consent for four dwellings and associated works, and the partial demolition of Picket Mead House, adjacent to the common. Permission for the development was granted on appeal last September. Before the development can go ahead, the developers need the consent of the Welsh ministers for works on the common, under section 38 of …read more

We calls for protection for paths, commons and greens when land is sold

We have called for public paths, common land and town and village greens to be protected when land is sold. We want questions about the existence of these features on a property to be compulsory, so that a prospective purchaser knows about them before he or she buys the land. At present these questions are only optional and it is possible to buy a property without knowing that the public has rights on it. The society has responded to a consultation by the Law Society which is updating the forms for prospective purchasers. However the consultation was limited and the society has called for more fundamental changes than the Law Society is proposing. We have argued that questions about the …read more

Ugly cables across Dartmoor to go underground

Western Power Distribution has won consent to put four kilometres of ugly electricity cables underground. The cables stretch across Walkhampton Common, in the Dartmoor National Park, and have been an eyesore for decades. Because the land is common land, WPD needed the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to do the work. We supported the application because undergrounding the cables will restore the natural beauty of the area, and enable people to enjoy it, on foot and horseback, without this manmade intrusion. We commend Western Power for this initiative, and look forward to seeing this breathtaking landscape free at last of ugly poles and cables.

Ministers are considering call-in for ‘Circuit of Wales’ development

The Welsh Government has issued a direction to prevent Blaenau Gwent Council from giving planning permission to the ‘Circuit of Wales’ motor-racing centre, while ministers decide whether to call the matter in. The council granted outline consent to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company last month. We were among the objectors who wrote to the Minister for Housing and Regeneration, urging him to call the application in because it is of national significance and contravenes national planning policies, as set out in Planning Policy Wales, regarding national parks, sustainability and common land. Natural Resources Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the Gwent and Brecknock Wildlife Trust and many others have also objected. It is right that the Welsh …read more

Good outcome for Kingsmoor Common, Kilgetty

We are delighted that the Welsh Government has rejected an application from Pembrokeshire County Council to extinguish the common rights on 3.78 acres of Kingsmoor Common, Kilgetty.(1) The common is owned by the council. The council applied, under the Dyfed Act 1987, to remove the common rights from 1.89 acres to build a new retail store, and 1.89 acres for extending a gypsy and traveller site. We objected because the proposals were contrary to the public interest as they would prevent local people from being able to enjoy the land for informal recreation. We argued that land should be provided in exchange so that the stock of common land was not diminished. The Minister for Housing and Regeneration rejected the …read more

Common-land issues make future of ‘Circuit of Wales’ uncertain

The Circuit of Wales plan still has a long way to go before it can proceed, because of the need to sort out common-land issues. The application, from the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, for a motor-racing centre was approved by Blaenau Gwent council yesterday (10 July). As a number of objectors pointed out, most of the 344-hectare site is registered common land. Thus the proposal cannot go ahead until suitable exchange-land has been provided and approved by the Welsh Government. The site is on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, close to Ebbw Vale. The Open Spaces Society, Natural Resources Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the Gwent and Brecknock Wildlife Trusts and other objectors …read more

Call for better protection of our unique common land

We are calling for better protection for the unique common land of England and Wales.  Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, spoke at a conference held at Newcastle University, Sustaining the Commons, on 5 July. Said Kate: ‘While the term”‘common” is understood internationally to mean “shared resource”—whether land, sea, the air or even information—here in England and Wales we have the first, historic, commons.  These are the survivors of the Inclosure Movement, they are defined in law and are unique. ‘Here, a common is land which has an owner but on which others have rights of grazing, or collecting wood, and the public has the right to walk on all of them and to ride on many. ‘Our commons have some …read more

Charlton Common inquiry adjourned

The public inquiry into a new access-road across Charlton Common in South Gloucestershire opened yesterday (9 April) and was immediately adjourned. The room at the BAWA Club, Filton, was overflowing with objectors from Southmead, Brentry and Henbury, who had not been consulted about the plans and who were angry at what was proposed. The inspector, Mrs Helen Slade, has adjourned the inquiry until November. The application from Redrow Homes is for a 6.4-metre-wide road with a three-metre-wide pedestrian/cycle lane in connection with adjoining development. Because the road is across common land, Redrow Homes need consent from the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, as well as planning permission. The society is one of the objectors. Our …read more

Development proposed on Llanberis common

We have joined the protestors again a proposed pump-storage power-station at Glynrhonwy quarries above Llanberis, Gwynedd, because the works will encroach on common land and be an eyesore in a popular area on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. We have put in an objection to Gwynedd County Council and called on the council to ensure the developer, The Quarry Battery Co Ltd, is aware that works cannot be constructed on common land without the consent of the environment minister, in addition to any planning permission. We consider that the development will have an adverse effect on this sensitive landscape, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and on people’s enjoyment of it.  It is used extensively by …read more

Our dismay at approval of cycleway on Cumbrian coastal common

We are dismayed that the Planning Inspectorate has approved a plan by Cumbria County Council to construct a cycleway on registered common land at Scadbeck and Crosscanonby foreshore on the Cumbrian Coast. Although the council had planning permission it was required in addition to obtain consent for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The route will form part of Hadrian’s cycleway, a coast-to-coast route from Silloth in the west to Wallsend in the east. We are disappointed that the application for works on common land has been granted.  We are in favour of the cycleway, which will take cyclists off the B5300 road with its speeding  motorists, but do not consider it should be …read more

Dismay at threat to mid-Wales beauty spot

We are dismayed that parts of the beautiful Eppynt Commons in Powys are advertised for sale ‘with some potential for wind-farm development’. The commons form part of an extensive ridge of high ground to the north of the Brecon Beacons National Park, south of Builth Wells.  More than 2,500 acres, comprising four commons with over 200 graziers, are up for sale with Chester Master. These commons are a vital element in the Welsh landscape, open and windswept, wild and free.  People can walk there and the graziers depend on them for their livelihood. It is worrying that the land should be advertised for wind development.   This might encourage prospective purchasers to think they can make money out of these commons.  …read more

Lambeth Council rejects Sky One TV’s domes on Clapham Common

Lambeth’s planning committee last night (11 September) rejected the application for a domed development on Clapham Common for Sky One TV’s ‘Got to Dance’.  The domes were erected before the planning application was even considered by Lambeth Council.  The councillors’ rejection was contrary to the officers’ recommendation of approval. The domes, with fencing, portacabins and other paraphernalia, need planning permission because they are to remain on site for 36 days and they are only allowed for 28 days as permitted development.   The Friends of Clapham Common and the Clapham Society (both of whom addressed the meeting) and the Open Spaces Society were among the objectors. We are delighted that the councillors rejected the advice of the officers.  Now these hideous, surreal …read more

Go-ahead for development beside Swansea common

We are disappointed that Carrington Moore Estates, in which the former Welsh rugby captain Andy Moore has an interest, has obtained planning consent for development adjoining Picket Mead Common at Newton, Swansea. The battle has raged over many years, but finally Carrington won its appeal to Welsh Ministers against Swansea Council’s refusal of planning consent. The consent is for four dwellings and associated works and the partial demolition of Picket Mead House. Picket Mead Common is a gem, a small open space which is treasured by the community.  The public has the right to walk and ride here.  The development will tower over the common and spoil people’s quiet enjoyment of it. We believe the housing will require the construction of a …read more

New edition of A Common Purpose out now

We are delighted that A Common Purpose, a guide to seeking agreement on England’s common land, has been published in a revised edition on the Foundation for Common Land’s website. This follows endorsement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ National Common Land Stakeholder Group which consists of all the principal organisations with an interest in commons. A Common Purpose provides guidance to common-land managers on how to engage the community and achieve consensus when works, such as fencing or tree-felling, are contemplated. It encourages land managers to take a step-by-step approach to understanding people’s views and to allow plenty of time for discussion and reflection. There are 1,544 square miles (400,000 hectares) of common land in England, …read more

Objectionable developments on Clapham Common

We have objected to plans to use part of Clapham Common, Lambeth, for filming Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance’.  The society was founded in 1865 initially to protect the London commons from development, and we consider that this current proposal needs special common-land consent as well as planning permission.  We are particularly angry that the development has gone ahead before either consent has been obtained.   The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967 sets out the requirement to obtain consent from the Secretary of State for Environment for buildings, structures and permanent enclosures on the common. The planning application is for three dome structures on the common, with fencing, portacabins and other paraphernalia. …read more

No land swap at Mynydd Lliw Common

An application for the exchange of common land has been rejected by the Welsh Government. DKT Planning Associates applied on behalf of Mrs Elizabeth Jones and Mr Ieuan Mainwaring to swap 1,200 square metres on the north-east side of Mynydd Lliw Common, Grovesend, Swansea, which is close to residential properties for a similar-sized area some distance away to the west. We objected because the land to be taken out of the common is relatively close to residential properties and therefore can be enjoyed by those living there. The replacement land was some distance away, and appeared to offer no benefit to the public. The applicants argued that the existing common was enclosed and not used for grazing. They also said …read more

Fencing plan rejected on Telscombe Tye Common

A public-inquiry inspector has rejected Telscombe Town Council’s application for fencing of parts of Telscombe Tye Common, north of Peacehaven in East Sussex. The inquiry was held in June this year into the council’s application, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, for works on common land.  The objectors included the British Horse Society.  We made a written representation. The council wished to erect about 1.6 miles of fencing around part of the common in order to graze it, to improve the biodiversity of the chalk downland site. We considered that the fence would be an eyesore in the beautiful landscape of the South Downs National Park and would obstruct public access to the area: people have the right to …read more

Red-tape review could threaten common land

We are concerned that plans to simplify the law of common land could put commons at risk of hostile development.  The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published its plans to cut red tape for environmental regulations.  These include extending the range of works on common land to be exempted from the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. At present it is necessary to obtain the environment secretary’s consent, in addition to any planning and other consents, for works on common land such as fences, buildings, surfaced tracks and car-parks, to name a few.  The current exemptions apply in a few, limited cases relating to nature conservation or protecting the land from …read more