Whitby village green’s fate to be decided by Supreme Court

Support us from £3/month

We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?

The application to register Helredale playing fields as a village green will be heard in the Supreme Court on Wednesday 2 April. The case could last for two days.

We have assisted members of Helredale Neighbourhood Council (HNC) in Whitby, North Yorkshire, with their case.

Campaigners on Helredale field

Campaigners on Helredale field

A member of the HNC committee, Mrs Christine Barkas, had applied to register the four-acre site on the grounds that it had been used for informal recreation by local people ‘as of right’, ie without being challenged and without permission—essential criteria for registering land as a green. If it is registered the land will be protected from development: there are plans to build houses here.

The application for a green was rejected by the Court of Appeal in October 2012, having previously been rejected by the registration authority, North Yorkshire County Council. This followed a public inquiry at which Mr Vivian Chapman QC was the inspector.

The Court of Appeal ruled that because the land was acquired under the Housing Act 1936 it was not eligible for registration.

Says Viv Wright, secretary of HNC: ‘The outcome of this case is vital not only for our much-loved green space, but also because it raises an important area of law. The result is likely to have a significant impact on future village green applications.’

Adds Nicola Hodgson, case officer for the Open Spaces Society: ‘It is becoming increasingly difficult to register land as a green, since the government changed the law preventing applications on land earmarked for development. So it is important to establish exactly what are the criteria which enable land to be registered.

‘Helredale is one in a succession of cases through the courts which will clarify the law on greens. It will determine whether open spaces which are held by local authorities under the Housing Acts can be registered as greens. We fervently hope that Helredale succeeds in the Supreme Court and makes further registrations possible.’

You can watch the proceedings live here from 10.30am on 2 April.

Join the discussion


Posted in