Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WONEWS to 80360, or email
New laws ‘will lead to loss of village greens’
New laws making it tougher for campaign groups to have land allocated as a village green could lead to more fields being concreted over, according to those who have run similar campaigns.
Starting this week, it is more difficult for land to be registered as a village green, a classification protecting it for recreational use.
The government claims the system has been abused and that “spurious” applications are being used to block housing developments in rural areas.
They maintained that legitimate applications will stay protected, but local campaign groups say it will make it even harder for communities to fight housing developers.
To have land designated as a protected village green, residents have to prove it has been used by the community for recreation for at least 20 years.
Recently a number of village green applications have been made in the Bradford district, although all have been dismissed.
Steeton Village Action Group attempted to have fields at Thornhill Road designated as a village green in their fight to stop Redrow Homes building a housing estate of over 200 homes on them.
And Menston Action Group tried to have land at Derry Hill allocated as a village green after the land was earmarked for 170 houses by Barratt Homes.
Announcing the changes, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Loopholes in the system have increasingly been abused by people looking to stop local development.
“As well as having a negative effect on the rural economy and reducing the value of land, this reduces the availability of rural homes, facilities and hospitals.”
Dr Steve Ellams, a member of Menston Action Group, said it was difficult enough to fight their unsuccessful village green battle before the new legislation came in.
He said: “Our bid was not successful, partly because of the amount of money involved.
“It was absolutely huge and you have these little groups trying to fight to protect green space.
“It cost our groups about £16,000. After these new rules people will have to think twice about making applications and going up against the bully boys. They’ll have no chance.”
Shona Cole, one of the protestors behind the Steeton campaign, said: “This is another ploy to destroy villages.
“It is very difficult to fight a big organisation. They have the money to just throw at legal challenges. Soon there will be no green spaces left. The villages will have just merged into one. When the government say they want to protect green spaces it is a load of rubbish.”
Shipley MP Philip Davies, who represents Menston, said: “If it makes it hard for people to preserve green spaces used by the community then I am wholly opposed to it. But if it is only to prevent vexatious attempts to stop development that have no chance of success then it is understandable why the government would do it.”
Comments are closed on this article.