Growth and Infrastructure Bill: threat to greens

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The Growth and Infrastructure Bill clause 13 will make it more difficult, if not downright impossible, to register land as a town or village green once it has been identified for development.

The Bill says that a ‘trigger event’—which includes first publication of a planning application or identification of the land for potential development in a local or neighbourhood plan—puts an immediate stop on any new application to register the land as a green. The trigger event may not even be a public process.

Furthermore, as soon as this part of the Act takes effect, no application to register can be made for land already subject to a trigger event unless that application has already been submitted.

These measures are intended to stop abuse of the village green process. Government claims that people are using it to thwart development. In fact few people apply to register land as a green purely to prevent development. However, when they find that land that they have loved and enjoyed informally for many years is under threat, they naturally want to make it safe. Registering a village green is formally acknowledging an existing situation.

We say that clause 13 and schedule 4 (which defines the ‘trigger events’) should be removed from the Bill. Failing that there should be a reasonable period of grace after the trigger, to give local people the chance to submit their evidence that the land should be registered as a town or village green.

Clause 12 of the Bill enables a landowner to deposit a statement, in the prescribed form, to bring an end to any period of use, as of right, for lawful sports and pastimes. There is no requirement for the landowner to publicise the fact that a statement has been deposited.

Once a statement has been deposited there is a two-year period, under section 15(3)(c) of the Commons Act 2006, during which local people can apply to register the land as a green.

We say that any statement must be publicised so that people are made aware of it. It must be displayed on the land and in other public places.

The Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 30 October.

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