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We have welcomed a decision which will help protect Hamsterley village green, six miles west of Bishop Auckland in County Durham.
Hamsterley Parish Council, the owner of the green, with the owners of Green View, a site to be developed for housing, had applied to the environment secretary for permission to deregister part of the green. This includes a ribbon of green verge along Saunders Avenue, to facilitate access to the new housing site opposite the junction with Bedburn Road.
When the council applied for deregistration in 2021, the Open Spaces Society objected because no land was offered in exchange, contrary to the environment secretary’s policy for the protection of town and village greens. Consequently, the planning inspector, on behalf of the environment secretary, rejected the proposal.
In 2023 the council and house owner reapplied, this time offering land in exchange for that to be taken. The land offered is the same area as that to be deregistered (92.7 square metres) and adjoins the green.
Since suitable exchange land was provided, as we had advocated, the society did not object, having won assurances that the wall in front of Green View will be removed to ensure the replacement land is contiguous with the existing green, and that the replacement land will not be used for parking. The inspector, Claire Tregembo, approved the application.
Says Hugh Craddock, a case officer for the society: ‘A year ago the application was refused because the parish council and developers did not offer land in exchange. Now that they have done so they have been permitted to deregister part of the green. But the development was delayed because of their failure to follow government guidance in the first instance.
‘We hope that this sends a strong message that if you want to take common land or village green for a development, you should offer suitable land in exchange or face serious opposition and delays.’