We help to save Sneedhams Green common, Gloucestershire, from encroachment 

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We welcome an inspector’s decision to refuse commons consent for works on Sneedhams Green in Gloucestershire. 

Black Box Planning Ltd, on behalf of the G W Hughes Will Trust, had applied to the Planning Inspectorate for approval to construct access ways across the common, which is south of Matson and close to the M5.  The access ways would have linked the Snow Capel proposed development site, which is the subject of a planning application for 190 dwellings, to Winnycroft Lane. 

Sneedhams Green, showing the location of two of the access ways. Photo: Chas Townley.

The society objected to the application for works on the common because the applicants failed to offer any new land to add to the common to replace what would be lost to the new access ways.  And the works would further have hindered the exercise of grazing rights on the common, by making the common boundary more porous to grazing sheep. 

One of our case officers, Hugh Craddock, said: ‘The society is not opposed to the Snow Capel development.  But if the developers want part of the common for their plans, they should add some land to it, to replace what will be lost to the new access ways.  That could easily have been done by means of an application for an exchange of land, and by now the developers might have the necessary consent in their back pocket.  But they thought they could get away with a cheaper option, where the local community, the commoner and the common would bear all the costs. They have been turned down and rightly so.’ 

Hugh added: ‘The new access ways would also have opened up three new breaches in the common perimeter. The developers had no regard for the exercise of commoners’ rights—a practice which has likely gone on here for centuries.  If they wish to proceed with a new application for an exchange of land, they will need to propose cattle grids or gates.  Had the developers commissioned half-decent research, or listened to the objections, they could have made a new application capable of being granted, but they just chose to plough on and ignore the criticism.  Now their timetable has been set back by a year or more.’ 

Chas Townley, our local correspondent, said: ‘Sneedhams Green is the last remaining common with graziers’ rights still being exercised within Gloucester City.  This is a significant decision which demonstrates the importance of providing replacement land for common land lost as a result of development proposals.’ 

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