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We have commended our member East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council in Kent for dedicating land as a village green. Kent County Council approved the registration in February.
The one-acre land is known as Whimbrel Village Green and is an area of open space within a housing estate (the streets of which are named after birds). It is just to the north of the A20.
Now that the land is registered it is protected from development and local people have rights of recreation here.
The parish council has in the last five years also registered three other areas of land which it owns: Rocks Close Green in East Malling, and Gighill Green and Willow Road Green in Larkfield.
Says David Thornewell, chairman of the parish council and our local correspondent in Tonbridge and Malling: ‘The idea is to give the areas better long-term protection. For instance, the council registered Rocks Close Green after it was approached by developers saying they could buy part of it to build some houses leaving the other half as a small amenity area. The council refused to sell—but this does show how open spaces are at risk, especially in the South East with the pressure for house building and with councils strapped for cash.’
The parish council has set a splendid example. We recommend that landowners dedicate sites as village greens for the enjoyment of local people. Parish councils are well placed to do this as East Malling and Larkfield has demonstrated.
‘There is advice on our website on how to go about this.’