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We have helped prevent the swap of part of Limpenhoe village green, ten miles south-east of Norwich in Norfolk. The green is in the Broads National Park.
Cantley Parish Council proposed to remove 4,970 square metres of Limpenhoe village green from the register and offer in exchange only 1,500 square metres closer to the village centre. It needed to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, via the Planning Inspectorate, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.
We objected to the proposal since the land to be given in exchange was much smaller than the land to be deregistered. Moreover the replacement land had limited access to it. There were also four individual objectors.
Cantley Parish Council considered that the replacement land was more convenient because it was next to the village hall and the council believed that it was more likely to be used for outdoor activities.
Planning inspector Susan Doran was appointed to determine the case and she refused permission. She noted the ‘significant reduction in area (loss) of the village green’ and the ‘net loss to the public in terms of nature conservation as the small size of the replacement land and its intended recreational use would mean a reduction in biodiversity when compared with the release land’. She agreed with the Open Spaces Society that the size of the replacement land was insufficient comfortably to accommodate fetes and other village activities.
She concluded: ‘The overriding factor is to protect and maintain commons and village greens and to ensure the overall stock of such land is not diminished. … I find the size of the replacement land and the disadvantages identified with regard to the public interest, are such that this application should not be approved.’
Says Ian Witham, our local correspondent for Norfolk: ‘This is a good outcome. It was clear to us that this was not a fair swap. However, the parish council no doubt has good intentions and we should be willing to help it find a way to resolve its dilemma of providing facilities for public recreation closer to the heart of the village.’