Court win for Yeadon Banks town green

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We are delighted that the case for registering Yeadon Banks as a town green has prevailed in the Court of Appeal. The five-acre Yeadon Banks is a much-loved open space on the outskirts of Leeds.

On Friday (2 December) the Appeal Court rejected the arguments on behalf of the landowner, Leeds Group plc, that the landowner had been prejudiced by a change in the law for registering greens during the 20-year period during which local people had been exercising their rights, and that this breached the landowner’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of its land under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 section 98 changed the law on registering new greens so that after that date, the qualifying use had to be by a significant number of inhabitants of any locality or neighbourhood, for 20 years without being stopped or asking permission. Before that, the requirement was merely for the inhabitants of the locality to have used the land. The landowner argued that the 2000 Act postponed the operation of the amended definition of town and village greens to 20 years after its enactment (ie 2020).

The qualifying period for Yeadon Banks was 1984 to 2004.

The court considered that the arguments were hypothetical, and that it was unrealistic to assume that the landowner ‘was content to allow a significant number of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood to use his land for very many years because he was confident that their use was not a use by the inhabitants of a locality, and so could not ripen into a legal right’.

The judges did not consider that there was any breach of the human rights convention.

Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘We are highly relieved that this appeal has been dismissed. We too felt the arguments were hypothetical and that it was wrong to postpone the operation of the amended definition of greens in the 2000 Act until a full 20 years had run, ie until 2020.

‘We felt so strongly that Yeadon Banks should be registered that we gave a donation towards the cost of the appeal. We have supported the applicant, Doug Jones of Keep Yeadon Banks Green (KEYBAG), throughout the process. This is a special area of green space and we trust that it will now be secure.’

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