As 2021 begins, it seemed appropriate to update all our supporters. Many of you will already be aware of a significant success being achieved in the concluding months of 2020.
The Local Plan that had allocated the Green Belt NE of Chesham for development of up to 900 homes and a gypsy travellers’ site was formally withdrawn from any further public Examination by the Council on 23 October. BNG and others had made numerous written submissions raising concerns about the Plan’s lack of legal compliance under the Duty to Co-operate with neighbouring areas, and the Local Plan Inspectors advised the Council to withdraw the Plan due to this. Although the Plan's withdrawal is a very significant victory, the war is not yet won and BNG’s campaign continues as we want to strengthen the protection of this land should this issue be revisited in the next Local Plan.
BNG therefore had reapplied for Asset of Community Value (ACV) status in September 2020 (namely before the announcement about the Chiltern & South Bucks Local Plan being withdrawn). Supporters will recall we had achieved ACV status in July 2019 only to see that decision shamefully revoked by the Council on most tenuous grounds about a year ago. Sadly, and despite submitting substantially more evidence this time supporting this second ACV nomination, our latest efforts have recently been similarly dismissed again. We are now contemplating a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman as we fail to understand how evidence of between 200 to 300 people per day using the land for informal, recreation could not be meeting the statutory test of improving community well-being.
However, in a further effort to ensure the land at Lye Green does not resurface in the next Local Plan that the new Buckinghamshire Council have announced they are now preparing in the next few years, the withdrawal of this draft Local Plan now removes a legal restriction that had hitherto prevented BNG from seeking registration of the fields around Lye Green as a Town or Village Green (TVG) under provisions in the Commons Act 2006.
Accordingly, BNG submitted comprehensive applications for TVG registration on all the fields around Lye Green within 10 days of the Local Plan being formally withdrawn. The decisions on this are awaited but may take some time.
The test for a Village Green is whether “a significant number of the inhabitants of the locality have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years;” We have already submitted over 50 Statements from people who have lived nearby for over 20 years representing over 1,700 years of local recollections confirming this point.
Both the TVG and our anticipated referral to the Local Government Ombudsman about the ACV issue will involve BNG maintaining active representations in 2021 all with the aim of preventing this issue resurfacing in the next iteration of the Local Plan.
Thank you again for all your donations & support over the last 5 years and please follow our progress via CrowdJustice or via our website at www.brownnotgreen.com
Happy New Year!
The BNG Team
Members of the Brown Not Green Campaign