More restrictions on ‘village greens’

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The Open Spaces Society is warning towns and villages throughout Sussex that from October 1 new laws will further erode their rights to save their green spaces by registering them as a town or village green.

The Society fears changes will be damaging now open space for communities are so vulnerable.

They point out land can be registered as a green if local people can demonstrate 20 years use for recreation, without challenge or permission; once registered the land is protected from development.

But the new Growth and Infrastructure Act, which received royal assent in April, already prevents people from applying to register land as a green if it is threatened with development.

On October 1, the law is extended so that any application must be submitted within one year of use being challenged by a landowner, instead of two years as at present. Also new regulations will allow landowners to prevent use by local people from developing into registrable rights.

Nicola Hodgson, Society case officer said: ‘This is a further nail in the coffin of our green spaces, placing greater restrictions on people wanting to protect valued open space.

“Yet more obstacles are in the way of genuine applicants who have used land for 20 years and merely wish to record the rights they have gained.

“At present there is a two-year period within which an application can be made, where there has been a challenge to local people’s use of the land. Communities whose use of lands has been challenged need to act fast and apply to register it. “

Recent ‘village green’ applications have been made to protect the beach at Newhaven and land off Ghyll Road, Heathfield.