Unfair land-swap at Therfield Heath Common, Royston

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We have objected to a proposed land swap by the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens.

Common land off Sun Hill, Royston – photo: Don Shewan

The conservators wish to exchange 1.65 acres of common land off Sun Hill at Royston in Hertfordshire for the same area of woodland over a mile away. The proposed exchange is to enable the conservators to build eight dwellings on the area of common to be deregistered, which is on the western side of Royston.

Applications to exchange common land are determined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006. The inspector must consider the interests of those with rights on the land to be deregistered as well as the interests of the neighbourhood and the public.

We have objected because we believe the existing land to be of great value to the public. It is immediately to the west of Royston, surrounded on three sides by housing, and is a treasured open space for local people and a playspace for children. The public has the right to walk and ride here.

We are surprised that the applicant has claimed that the land is unused and overgrown; in fact, it is used with a well-worn path across it. Any overgrowth is in any case part of its attraction for children’s play.

The replacement land is some distance away, and is not readily available for local children to enjoy. It would serve a different purpose and we consider is of inferior value to the public.

We have therefore concluded that the application is not in the interests of the neighbourhood or the public, and we hope that the Planning Inspectorate will not approve it.

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