Government rides roughshod over rights of local people

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The Growth and Infrastructure Bill has today been introduced in the House of Commons.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary, ‘It contains damaging measures which will severely restrict the opportunity for local people to register rights they have established over a twenty year period (1), where they have used land for recreation, and to have this recorded in the register of town and village greens. (2)

‘The worst provisions prohibit applications to register land as a town/village green where planning permission has been given, but also include a prohibition where land is included in a draft local or neighbourhood plan, where no public consultation has taken place.

‘Landowners will be able to use a new process to terminate use by local people. This will bring to an end ‘as of right’ use.(3)

‘At present it is possible to make an application within a two year period of any challenge to use and it is essential that this provision remains so that local people can make an application to protect the land.(4)

‘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.’

Kate concludes ‘It is outrageous that the rights of local people are being overridden in this way. We are considering the detailed wording and implications of the Bill with our parliamentary agents’.

Kate’s interview on Radio 4 You and Yours on 19 October can be heard here.

1. 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.

2. The registers are held by unitary authorities.

3. ‘as of right’ is without secrecy, force or permission

4. The legislation which protects greens from encroachment and development is section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1845 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876. Once land is registered as a green, local people have the right to enjoy it for informal recreation.

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