Legal Assistants (Litigation and Planning)
Give councils power to tackle vexatious village green applications, urges LGA PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 19 December 2011 14:31

The Local Government Association has called for councils to be given more powers to deal with “malicious, vexatious and incomplete” claims for village green status.

In its response to a government consultation on village greens, the LGA said local authorities should be able to claim back costs in appropriate cases.

The association argued that a high proportion of the claims were “simply used as delaying tactics to prevent new affordable housing or much needed regeneration”.

The LGA cited a number of cases to support its claims, including:

  • St Austell, Cornwall: a site proposed for village green status included beach huts and a car park. An inspectors’ report concluded that neither the beach huts nor the car park fitted the criteria for a village green.
  • Poole: the council had received two village green applications in the past year. One had been rejected, while the other was ongoing. Poole Council had spent £75,000 on legal and staffing costs “with the potential for a further £30,000 should the remaining application go to judicial review.”

The LGA pointed out that the cost to those making the application was minimal.

It argued that people should instead have their say on development through the planning system. The scope to do this will be boosted by the government’s reforms, including the development of local plans, the Association added.

The LGA also publicly backed government plans to close a ‘loophole’ that means village green application can delay developments which have planning permission and have begun building work.

Cllr David Parsons, Chairman of the LGA Environment and Housing Board, said: "Councils are keen to protect genuine village greens and community land in their neighbourhoods. However, the idea that a beach hut or car park constitutes a village green is clearly ridiculous.

"The right balance needs to be reached between looking after genuine village greens and the provision of affordable housing, services and jobs which local areas badly need. Councils are reliable and can be trusted to perform this function effectively.”

Cllr Parsons claimed that “millions of pounds of taxpayer's money” was being spent by councils processing village green applications where the primary aim was to prevent development.

 

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