In our response to the consultation Planning for Sustainability, we have called on the Welsh Government to give extra protection to commons and village greens during the planning process.
We propose a compulsory question on the planning-application form, to ask whether the application will affect any common or village green. If the answer is yes, there should be a presumption against the development.
It is far too easy for someone to apply for planning permission to develop a common or green, and for the authority to give consent even though the development would be unlawful. The existence of commons and greens is not well-publicised, they are recorded on registers held by the local authorities but the planning departments do not automatically refer to them when they receive a planning application.
If there was a compulsory question about commons and greens, applicants would be required to search the register and confirm whether or not the planning application affected such a site. If it did, there should be a presumption against the application because the likelihood is that it would be unlawful. Works on commons need the environment minister’s consent, and works on greens are outlawed unless they are to further the community’s enjoyment of the land for informal recreation.
Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘The commons and greens of Wales are immensely precious to local communities, and upland commons are also vital for the graziers who depend on them. Both must be protected. Our proposals will help to ensure they receive the recognition and respect they deserve.’