Monday, 05 November 2012 14:15

Controversy over village green plan

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Controversy over village green plan

GOVERNMENT plans for town and village greens are a "kick in the teeth" for localism, claim campaigners.

The Open Spaces Society wants MPs to speak against clause 13 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, due for its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday (5 November).

Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook said the clause would make it difficult to register land as a town or village green once it had been identified for development.

"The government wants to stop so-called "vexatious" applications to register greens which, it claims, are being submitted solely to thwart development.

"In fact few applications are purely vexatious and the clause has the effect of killing genuine applications too."

The clause was an oppressive measure because it could halt development even if land had been identified for development in secret.

"The trigger event may not even be public," said Ms Ashbrook.

"Furthermore, as soon as this part of the Act takes effect, no application to register land as a green can be made for land already subject to a trigger event unless the greens application has already been submitted.

"So the rug is being pulled from under us without giving us a chance to save our spaces."

Ms Ashbrook said village and town greens were not only the traditional kind or those with a duck pond and a cricket square.

Greens which communities claimed today were likely to be pieces of overlooked or marginal land which have been used by local people for recreation.

"They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are pretty, many are plain though useful. But they are loved and enjoyed by their communities.

"The government's proposals will put an instant end to the ability of local people to protect their much-loved spaces. This is a developers' charter."

Defra said the Growth Bill would ensure communities that wish to see land developed in their areas will no longer be overruled by an abuse of Town and Village Green (TVG) legislation.

At the moment, it was possible for houses to be built, bought and even lived in before a TVG application was made, leaving residents with great uncertainty as to the future of their homes.

Abuse of TVG legislation meant that some communities had to wait for years to discover whether there would be new housing or job opportunities in their local area.

Yet in the right place, these developments were key to helping more aspiring people on to the housing ladder and giving businesses a better chance to grow.

Costs to taxpayers, land owners and local investors could run into millions of pounds while a TVG application goes through the courts, saidf Defra.

The current legislation also served as a disincentive to investment in areas which communities wished to see developed.

Defra secretary Owen Paterson said: "Town and village greens are cherished community spaces, and it's absolutely right they continue to have the strongest protection.

"Yet the system can be abused to stop developments like affordable housing from being built.

"We're stamping down on the abuse of this law that can effectively shut local communities out of deciding what development is right for them.

"This government has a vital mission to support growth and spread aspiration, and these new plans will help that to happen."

Reform would protect local communities' ability to determine appropriate local development by preventing TVG applications overriding decisions made following local consultation.

People in this conversation

  • Once again, Government (and it doesn't matter which political party) are on the side of big business. As for this "abuse" of TVG legislation, I would say , having been through the process, it is not something you go into lightly or without money to pay the petitioner's share of the huge legal bills that run up as a result of a Public Inquiry. It is just an excuse to shut down a legitimate method of protest. A Neighbourhood Plan is one alternative to protect localities but it is very expensive.

    from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK

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