We have condemned the Welsh Government’s draft Planning Bill in which it proposes to pave the way for development of open spaces by changing the law for registering land as a town or village green.
The Welsh Government wants to make it impossible to apply to register land as a green where that land is subject to any planning restriction. This law was introduced in England earlier this year in the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.
Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘We are dismayed that the Welsh Government plans to copy the Westminster government in introducing these damaging changes to the law. They will mean that once much-loved land is threatened with development, it will be too late for local people to save it.
‘People generally take for granted their customary use of land for recreation and play. It is only when that land is under threat that they realise they must record their rights in order to save them.
‘The Welsh Government claims that it has evidence that applications for registration as a green are being used to frustrate development. Where is that evidence? Our belief is that people naturally want to save land which they have enjoyed.
‘It is not necessary to change the law in order to improve the village-green process. It is possible to speed up and streamline the system by amending the regulations and guidance.
‘We fear that a change in the law could put a stop to communities being able to secure the land they love. We have many examples of groups who are trying to register greens to do just that.’
Examples of greens which have not yet been registered and are threatened with development include:
- Ridgeway Green, Lisvane, Cardiff
- Trefforest, Rhondda Cynon Taf
- Saltney Ferry, Flintshire
- Cae Glas, Kingsland, Holyhead
- Talybont, Ceredigion
Nicola continues: ‘We call on communities in Wales to:
• respond before 25 February 2014 to the consultation on the Planning Bill, saying no to the proposed changes to village-green law (pages 86-88 and question 41),
• apply now to register land which local people have enjoyed for 20 years without permission or hindrance, before it is too late. Our book Getting Greens Registered tells you how to do it.
• tell us of examples of greens which will not be registrable if the proposed new law comes about.