We have urged local councils to be active in rescuing green spaces in their communities.
Our case officer, Nicola Hodgson, was addressing the Society of Local Council Clerks’ national conference for practitioners near Derby on 1 March. She spoke on the threats to town and village greens, common land and open spaces, and what local councils can do to protect them.
Nicola presented a four-point plan for local councils.
She said: ‘Local councils are uniquely placed to protect open spaces for public enjoyment. Open spaces are under threat of development and the government has relaxed the laws intended to protect them. Here are some things that clerks may, with the authority of their local council, do.
1 Register land which belongs to the council as a town or village green; they can do this voluntarily and then the land is protected from development.
2 Help local people to identify and register land as a town or village green based on 20 years’ use for informal recreation. It is vital to do this before the land is threatened with development, or the landowner has challenged people’s use of the land.
3 Organise surveys of the local commons, or annual beating the bounds events, and check whether there are any unlawful encroachments; if there are, follow them up with the county or unitary council, or consider taking legal action.
4 If there is a neighbourhood plan in prospect, ensure that local people identify land they wish to protect as Local Green Space so that it can be designated and secured.
‘The Open Spaces Society provides advice and guidance and will be pleased to help local councils to protect their open spaces for the benefit of the community.’