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We are delighted that Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey has voluntarily registered Stokes Field, Long Ditton, as a village green. This follows a long campaign by the society.
Comprising about eight hectares of mixed woodland, open grassland and scrub intersected by numerous paths, the land is also a Local Nature Reserve.
After Elmbridge Council’s consultants had identified the adjoining One Tree Hill, owned by developers Taylor Wimpey, as ‘lesser performing green belt’, concerned local residents applied to register both areas as village greens. Local residents had used the land for recreation for several decades and therefore believed that it qualified for registration.
Elmbridge Borough Council opposed the Stokes Field application and, foreseeing legal difficulties, our local correspondent Rodney Whittaker began a campaign, supported by local councillors, to persuade the council voluntarily to register the land.
This registration has been agreed by the council which withdrew its opposition in the face of local pressure.
The society is supporting the applicants in the contested application for One Tree Hill which is due for hearing by an inspector at a public inquiry in April.
Says Rodney: ‘We are delighted that Elmbridge Council was prepared to listen to our arguments for voluntary registration of this popular piece of land. Now it will be safe, and local people have rights of recreation here. In doing this, the council has set an excellent example to others.
‘No less than 57 per cent of Elmbridge’s land area comprises registered commons and other open, accessible spaces. The Residents Association led Council has a deserved reputation for excellent care of its commons. The areas are all well used and much valued by the borough’s residents.
‘Now we hope to succeed at the public inquiry and to add One Tree Hill to the village green register as well.’