We help to protect Hamsterley green, County Durham

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We have welcomed a decision which will help protect Hamsterley village green, VG45, six miles west of Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

Hamsterley TVG, Google Street View

Hamsterley Parish Council had applied to the environment secretary for permission to deregister part of the green, which includes a ribbon of green verge along Saunders Avenue, to facilitate access to a new housing site opposite the junction with Bedburn Road. The green would have been used to create a new road to the site. The parish council owns the green.

In his decision [1], inspector Mr W Johnson, of the Planning Inspectorate, refused consent for deregistration because the council had failed to offer replacement land contrary to the Secretary of State’s policy for the protection of town or village greens [2], and because of the visual impact of loss of the green.

Hugh Craddock, one of our case officers, said: ‘The society opposed this application. The secretary of state’s published policy says that, even where the loss of town or village green is slight, he expects to see equivalent land offered in compensation other than in exceptional circumstances. Plainly, these weren’t exceptional circumstances.’

Hugh continued: ‘It’s not difficult. Developers must, as a minimum, offer land nearby in substitution. In this case, the developer had agreed to provide play space within the development site, and that would have made an admirable addition to the green—protecting it against any future ambition to cram in more homes or snaffle it for parking spaces. What could be simpler? But instead, the parish council, perhaps ill-counselled by its professional advisers, refused to concede replacement land, and got turned down.’

[1] Reference COM/3292485 dated 6 September 2022, due to be published at www.gov.uk/guidance/2019-common-land-notices-and-decisions.

[2] Common land consents policy, published by Defra, November 2015, available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-land-consents-policy.

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