Venue: Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Kingsmead Road, Canterbury CT2 7PH
Contact: Andrew Tait 01622 694342
(1) Members of the Panel visited the application site before the meeting. This visit was attended by Ms S Pettman and Mr B Gore on behalf of the applicants and Mr R Griffith from Canterbury City Council.
(2) Before making her presentation, the Commons Registration Officer noted that the applicants had very recently sent representations individually to Members of the Panel. In the light of the comments contained within them, she had sought further advice from Counsel. This advice had been received within the previous 12 hours, and supported the conclusions set out in the report.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer began her presentation by saying that the application had been made by Ms A Bradley, Ms S Langdon and Mr M Denyer under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 and the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008. The application had been accompanied by 335 user evidence forms and other evidence (including maps showing the site and relevant localities, photographs of the site, extracts from Canterbury CC’s register of Council-owned land, and various statements from local students). Documents relating to the City Council’s proposal to dispose of the land for development purposes had also been included, and the Commons Registration Officer explained that they needed to be disregarded by the Panel for the purposes determining whether to register the land in question as a Village Green.
(4) The Commons Registration Officer went on to set out the case put forward by the applicant. This was that the site was had been used by local inhabitants for a range of activities “as of right” for more than 20 years.
(5) The Commons Registration Officer then described the responses from consultees. Over 100 supporting messages had been received including a letter from the Local Member, Mr G K Gibbens.
(6) The Commons Registration Officer continued by saying that the site was owned by Canterbury City Council apart from a small section on the northern boundary, which was owned by Berkeley Homes PLC.
(7) Canterbury CC had objected to the application on the grounds that it held the land under their power to provide public recreational facilities, which meant that use of the land by the public had been “by right” rather than “as of right.” No objection had been received from Berkeley Homes.
(8) The Commons Registration Officer moved on to consideration of the individual tests for registration to take place. The first of these was whether use of the land had been “as of right”. She said that use had clearly not been by force or stealth. In this case, however, the land had been held by the City Council as land appropriated for public recreation in 1967 for “use as a playing field” under section 163 of the Local Government Act 1933 (replaced by section 144 of the Local Government 1972 and then by section 19 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976).
(9) The Commons Registration Officer referred to case law. Lord Walker had noted in ... view the full minutes text for item 18.