We have objected to Northumberland County Council’s plan to swap 4,400 square metres (just over one acre) of Amble Braid village green for a similar-sized but inferior area to the south.
The society helped local people to register the land as a village green in 2009. Then it was under threat of a supermarket on the adjoining land. As a village green, the land is protected from development and local people have rights of recreation there.
Northumberland County Council, the landowner, has applied under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006 to remove a strip of land from the heart of the village green and replace it with part of the recreational area north of The Gut.
The Open Spaces Society understands that this replacement land was excluded from registration as a village green because it was held and managed by the local authority under the Open Spaces Act 1906 and therefore the public already has a legal right of access there for recreation.
The application for the exchange of village green will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Secretary of State’s published policy states that the public must be no worse off in consequence of the exchange. Clearly the public will be worse off, since people will gain no new access from the replacement land and they will lose a chunk of their village green to a car-park.
The policy also states that ‘the Secretary of State would not normally grant consent where the replacement land is already subject to some form of public access, whether that access was available by right or informally, as this would diminish the total stock of access land available to the public’.
We know that Amble Braid is immensely popular with local people and visitors, which is why we were delighted when it was registered as a green nearly ten years ago.
This so-called exchange is totally unfair. The public would lose much and gain nothing. Also, the car-park would create an eyesore in this prominent, seaside, open space.
We have said that the proposal is against the interests of local people and visitors who use and enjoy this lovely green and against the Secretary of State’s policies for village greens. We have called for the rejection of this offensive plan.