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‘The national Open Spaces Society has plenty to keep it busy here in Henley-on-Thames,’ said the society’s case officer, Nicola Hodgson, speaking at a lunch organised by the Henley & Peppard Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL). Founded in 1865, the society celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.
Nicola told the RBL how the society has campaigned tirelessly for common land, town and village greens, open spaces and public paths, starting with saving the London commons in the mid-nineteenth century.
Says Nicola: ‘After its London launch the society soon branched out into all parts of England and Wales, and extended its range of interests.
‘The society was instrumental in preserving the Nettlebed Commons, through the Nettlebed and District Commons Preservation Act 1906, and used its legal expertise to save and open up countless commons, open spaces and paths.
‘More recently, the society has advised its member, Henley Town Council, on the registration of Gillotts Field as a village green, to protect it for ever, and has celebrated the new footpath from Pack and Prime Lane.
‘Green spaces are under unprecedented threat of development, and the society has launched a tool-kit to help local people save their open spaces. They can apply for designation as Local Green Space or for registration as a community asset, for instance.
‘We have been at the forefront of protecting open spaces and public paths for 150 years and intend to continue the fight for the next 150,’ Nicola concluded.