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The application to register five acres of treasured open space known as Yeadon Banks, on the outskirts of Leeds, as a town green is still not decided following a Court of Appeal judgment on Monday (20 December). Read the judgment here
Mr Doug Jones, of Keep Yeadon Banks Green (KEYBAG) applied in 2004 to register the land as a green on the grounds that it had been used by local people for informal recreation without challenge for 20 years.
Leeds City Council, the registration authority for town and village greens, invited barrister Alun Alesbury to hold an inquiry into the application which was opposed by the owner of part of the land, Leeds Group plc, along with David Wilson Homes who wanted to buy the land for development. Registration as a green makes development illegal. Mr Alesbury ruled that the land be registered as a green, and the landowner appealed to the High Court and lost, and then to the Court of Appeal.
The three Appeal Court judges decided, by two to one, that the legal tests for registering the land as a green were satisfied. These included that the people who were using the green for recreation came from two neighbourhoods, rather than one. Leeds Group plc had argued that they must come from only one neighbourhood.
However, one matter has been reserved for a later hearing, the landowner’s contention that, as the greens law changed during the qualifying 20-year period, he was unfairly prejudiced and therefore that the registration should be quashed.
Comments Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has ruled that the evidence of recreational use may come from more than one neighbourhood. This is significant for urban greens, where users generally come from a number of surrounding areas. It is an important step forward in the interpretation of the criteria for registering greens and will assist those who are considering making an application.
‘We await with interest the Appeal Court’s ruling on the matter of prejudice to the landowner.’