We urgently need written responses from local residents by the end of the next week (by Friday 26th April) as we go through the process of registering the fields around Lye Green as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
The urgency is as a result of the revised Timetable for the Emerging Local Plan about to be formally adopted on 29th April by the Council. We need eight weeks to get our ACV registered/considered before the end of any Plan consultation period and ideally before its publication.
To support the ACV we urgently need as much evidence from the community as possible. A member of the BNG Team has drafted his own Statutory Declaration and about 60 photographs but the support of others in the community is vital to our success.
The test we must pass to get the Local Authority to list the land as an ACV is that:
The land “…. furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community, and it is realistic to think it will continue to do so in the next five years.”
We propose to argue that it does this due to the widespread and habitual use of the land for decades for informal outdoor recreation including;
“hiking/rambling, dog walking, bird watching, jogging, and general outdoor exercise but that use has also included observing nature and local wildlife with family and children, kite flying, practicing for Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and socialising with like-minded people from the immediate neighbourhood”.
We will be claiming these uses have taken place not just on the public footpaths but also on the many other well-trodden tracks around most of the boundaries and through the woods. Most of these can be seen from space using Google Earth!
Ideally, those who have lived in the area for more than 20 years would provide the most persuasive evidence because twenty years' use grants “rights of prescription” to that user. NB: This is especially relevant to any local person who has installed a rear gate on their property that affords them direct access to the land that the landowner has never complained about. We have counted about eighteen such gates around the field!
However, we also need anyone who can attest to the unrestrained use of the land by themselves or the public regardless of how long they have lived here or whether their house borders the site or not.
Our Planning Barrister has advised that statements and letters from any member of the community can also describe other people’s use, e.g.:
“from my kitchen window/garden I regularly see families playing with kites on the field, people walking their dogs and I have seen numerous camping / DoE expeditions over the years… I would estimate that I see dog walking across the field every day, whereas children tend to be in the warmer months and particularly at the weekends…. Family events happen across the year but especially in the warmer months…. I remember specifically when… …. “or “I have lived here for 30 years and through that time…” etc.
We also need to know if anyone has ever had any complaint from the landowner(s) asking them to get off the land. Have the Landowners taken action against anyone using the land on areas away from the public footpaths?
In a nutshell we need:
We will not be submitting a copy of anyone’s statement/letter to the Council without confirming via legal advice that there can be no complaint of trespass brought against any individual.
POST EDIT: IMPORTANT: Legal Advice received says that to avoid any (slight) risk of liability for trespass, you are strongly recommended NOT to self-incriminate or say you & your family have used the land other than via the various public footpaths that cross the land unless you have lived here for more than 20 years. Legal advice received also suggests that you can feel safe to state that you have regularly walked on areas away from the public footpaths or upon on the other parts of the land only If you or your family have lived here for 20 years + (Note: 19 years 11 months is not enough!)
NB: People living here less than 20 years should only affirm what they have seen other unnamed people doing.
Letters should be addressed (but NOT sent) to the Council:
Community Right to Bid - Chiltern District Council
King George V House
King George V Road,
Letters should forwarded/delivered to (for collective submission):
Brown Not Green Chesham Ltd,
2 Deer Park Walk,
Chesham Bucks HP5 3LJ
WE WOULD REALLY LIKE THESE ASAP or by the end of next week if possible (Friday 26 April).
If YOU WOULD LIKE GUIDANCE NOTES ON HOW TO WRITE A LETTER OR MAKE A STATEMENT OF TRUTH IN SUPPORT OF THIS APPLICATION PLEASE CONTACT US THROUGH THE WEBSITE.
Thanks very much in advance for your prompt action. This may well be a key opportunity in our fight to save the Green Bet around Lye Green being developed.
The BNG Team