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We are celebrating the registration of two new village green at Dorchester on Thames and Little Wittenham in Oxfordshire. The greens at the historic Dyke Hills (3.03 hectares), a scheduled Iron Age settlement, and at Day’s Lock Meadow (2.37 hectares) beside the River Thames. They have been voluntarily registered by a beneficent landowner, Keith Ives.
Now that the land is registered local people have the right of recreation there, and the land is safe from development and encroachment for ever.
This is the culmination of a long campaign which the society fought alongside local residents. It dates back to 2016 when a new landowner erected fences around these sites and denied people their long-enjoyed access there.
We helped the newly-formed Friends of Dorchester and Little Wittenham Open Spaces, led by the knowledgeable and effective Becky Waller, to gather evidence to register the land as greens. They needed to demonstrate that local people had used the sites for informal recreation, without challenge or permission for 20 years. The group achieved this and submitted the evidence to Oxfordshire County Council, the registration authority, in 2017.
However, with limited staff, the council made little progress with the applications. Then, in spring 2020, Mr Ives bought the land and, as a person with a strong sense of community, agreed voluntarily to register the sites so that they could continue to be enjoyed by the public.
Now, at last, Oxfordshire County Council has added the land to the village green register, so that Day’s Lock becomes VG139 and Dyke Hills VG140.
Says Becky Waller: ‘Keith Ives bought Bishops Court Farm at Dorchester intending to restore it to the heart of the community, and we are so grateful for his generosity. This summer, more than ever, people have been enjoying these precious open spaces, and we are overjoyed that public access to them is secured.
Adds Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are delighted to have helped secure people’s access to these special places for ever. We congratulate the residents for their perseverance and determination, and we thank Mr Ives most warmly for his gift to the community. He is a fine example to other landowners. The society is encouraging landowners voluntarily to register their land as greens to protect it for public enjoyment.’
In the video below Becky Waller describes the process the team underwent to secure the village greens