We have objected to plans by Gleeson Developments Ltd to strike part of Leigh Common, east Wimborne in Dorset, from the common-land register. The developers want to build an access-road across the common to serve a new housing development on land south of Leigh Road which crosses the common. It also wants to widen the existing tarmac footway across the common to add a cycleway.
In March the developers applied to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, via the Planning Inspectorate, for consent for these works on the common, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. The society objected to the application which would suburbanise a rustic common and create an unacceptable intrusion. Moreover, the works would conflict with the public’s rights enjoy the common for quiet recreation and with the land’s status as common.
Shortly after submitting the application for works on common land the developers applied to Dorset County Council, the commons registration authority, to deregister part of Leigh Common so that it was no longer common land. The developers claimed that the land was wrongly registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965.
We have objected to this too, arguing that there is no evidence that any error was made when the common was registered.
Says Hugh Craddock, one of our case officers: ‘We are deeply concerned that the developers seem determined to damage the common in order to achieve their aims. They should respect the fact that their development is adjacent to a very special type of land, which carries public rights to walk and ride, and should alter their plans to accommodate the common.’