Unfair exchange at Beverley Westwood Common

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We have objected to plans by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to swap land on Beverley Westwood Common for a small piece on the northern edge. This is to accommodate a cycle track across the common.

The law (section 16 of the Commons Act 2006) requires any exchange of common land to take account of the interests of the neighbourhood and the public interest. We do not consider that these interests have been met.

The replacement land is remote and largely inaccessible. On race days it cannot be reached by the route over the race course and, in any case, it is currently closed for renovation. In wet weather the alternative route is extremely muddy.

The replacement land is in another parish, on the far side of what is believed to be an ancient boundary of the common; the Pasture Masters have no jurisdiction over this land so it would be under a different management regime.

The existing land is across the middle of the common. We do not consider it is sufficiently wide to construct a cycle track with an adjoining footpath. The legal position of any such cycle track is anyway very unclear.

Normally when replacement land is inferior to the land to be taken, the applicant offers a greater area in compensation. The council has not done so here: both parcels are 710 square metres.

We also do not believe that there has been adequate publicity of the council’s plans.

We hope that the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the environment secretary, will reject the application and that the council will think again.

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