Venue: Ripple Village Hall, Pommeus Road, Ripple CT14 8JA
Contact: Andrew Tait 01622 694342
(1) Members of the Panel visited the application site before the meeting. This visit was attended by Mr R Chatfield (applicant), the landowner, Mr N Fielding (with Rhodri Price-Lewis QC and Ms J Laver - Fuller Long Planning Consultants) and some 20 members of the public.
(2) The Commons Registration Officer began her presentation by saying that the application had been made by Mr R Chatfield under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 and the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008. The application had been accompanied by 124 user evidence forms and other evidence (including Land Registry searches, a detailed history and use of the site, photographs showing various activities taking place on the site and a letter from Ringwould Cricket Club). A further 202 user evidence forms had subsequently been submitted.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer went on to set out the case put forward by the applicant. This was that the site consisted of two plots of land. The northern section had been owned by the MoD until it was sold to Ledger Farms in the 1970s. The southern section had also been owned by the MoD until being sold to a local family in 1992. The current owner of the southern section, TG Claymore had erected barbed wire and taken other action to restrict access in August 2012. Up to this point, the applicants claimed that residents had enjoyed unrestricted access and use of the site for more than 30 years.
(4) The Commons Registration Officer then described the responses from consultees. Ripple PC had indicated that it neither supported nor opposed the application. Deal TC has written in support, stating that the local population had made continued use of the land for lawful sports and pastimes for many years and that this activity had remained unchallenged until very recently. A petition containing over 1700 signatures in support of the application had also been received (although this was of little value as evidence of use). The Local Member, Mr S C Manion had given a neutral response. There had also been over 100 e.mails and letters of support as well as a letter of objection from a member of the public.
(5) The Commons Registration Officer continued by saying that the landowners were represented by Fuller Long Planning Consultants who had objected to the application on the grounds that informal use of the site had been sporadic and insufficient to notify a reasonable landowner that a public right was being asserted; that there had been a break in the twenty year period of use in 1999/2000 when the land had been occupied by travellers; that the alleged use had only been attested by some 2% of the local population, which was not a significant number; that use of the land had been by stealth to a significant degree; and that any use had been contentious and therefore by force as the landowners had done everything that was reasonably possible to stop unauthorised use through ... view the full minutes text for item 19.