Threat to Leicestershire common

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We have objected to a proposed development which would encroach on common land at Great Bowden, one mile north of Market Harborough in Leicestershire.

The proposed development, by Mulberry Land Planning and Developments Ltd, is for housing on land at Fernie Hunt Stables, Nether Green, Great Bowden. One of the proposed gardens is on registered common land, yet the developers fail even to mention this in their application.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We have objected most strongly to this development, in support of our member Great Bowden Parish Council. We are dismayed that the developers propose to destroy an area of registered common. Their development will be unlawful unless they obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for works on common land.

‘It is deplorable that the developers fail even to mention the common in their application. They seem not to realise that common land has its own laws and is a special and ancient land type. It is relatively rare in Leicestershire, where many commons were stolen from the people during the inclosure movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

‘The development will also interfere with the public’s right to walk over this common.

‘It appears that the planning authority, Harborough District Council, has not warned the developers of the requirement to obtain special ministerial consent for works on common land. This is despite the fact that the Open Spaces Society wrote to all planning authorities a few years ago to point out that, if a development threatens common land, they must warn the applicants that their works may be unlawful.

‘We have written both to Harborough District Council and to the developers, explaining the law relating to common land. We have urged the council to reject the application to ensure this valuable piece of common is safeguarded.’

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