Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Andrew Tait 01622 694342
(1) The Commons Registration Officer informed the Panel that the application had been made by Mr R Hewitt under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006. It had been accompanied by 18 User Evidence Questionnaires.
(2) The site in question consisted of an open area of land, some 0.4 acres in size with a grassed surface. Access to this land was along surfaced pathways, which were estate paths rather than recorded public rights of way.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer reported that the site was owned by Russet Homes Ltd. They had made no representations regarding the application despite having been informed of it.
(4) The Commons Registration Officer went on to briefly consider each of the legal tests. She said that there had been no evidence of any challenge having been made to recreational use and that therefore such use appeared to have taken place “as of right.” The evidence also strongly suggested that the site had been used for lawful sports and pastimes such as ball games and general play on a daily basis.
(5) The Commons Registration Officer turned to the question of whether use had been by a significant number of inhabitants of a particular locality or neighbourhood within a locality. In this instance, the neighbourhood was Brook Street Estate within the locality of Judd Ward in Tonbridge. The evidence provided indicated that the land had been in general use by the Brook Street Estate community (particularly children) on a regular basis. This test had therefore been met.
(6) The Commons Registration Officer concluded her presentation by saying that the evidence clearly suggested that use of the land had taken place over a period of twenty years and that it had continued up to and beyond the date of application. She recommended that, as all the legal tests had been met, registration should take place.
(7) Mr C P Smith (Local Member) was present for this item pursuant to Committee Procedure Rule 2.27. He said that he had been surprised to receive the report as neither he nor Mr Long, his fellow Local Member had been aware if the application. He accepted the Commons Registration Officer’s assurance that she had written to him in June 2013 when the application had been made and in December 2013 to say that it was under consideration. He agreed that the land was well used and said that he had no objection to registration. He also noted that there was another identical patch of land nearby which could also be registered.
(8) On being put to the vote, the recommendations of the Head of Regulatory Services were agreed unanimously.
(9) RESOLVED that the applicant be informed that the application to register the land at Masefield Way in Tonbridge as a new Village Green has been accepted and that the land subject to the application be formally registered as a Village Green.
(1) The Panel Members had visited the site of the application on 8 March 2014. This visit had been attended by Vivian Chapman QC, Ms N Morris and Mr E Newlyn (Rydon Group Ltd) and by Mr F Newing (Landowner).
(2) The Commons Registration Officer reported the views of the Local Member, Mr M J Northey. He had written to her to say that there was very strong local feeling in favour of the application and that, in his view the issues were so complex that they should be resolved by holding a non-statutory public inquiry in order that they could be clarified.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer began her presentation by saying that the application had been made by Littlebourne PC under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006. The site in question consisted of some 22.5 acres of grassland. It was crossed by a public footpath, and access to it was via two other public footpaths which abutted the site. The application had been accompanied by 45 user evidence questionnaires. A further 36 forms had subsequently been submitted in support.
(4) The Commons Registration Officer went on to say that the land in the north eastern section of the site was owned by Littlebourne PC itself. The rest (apart from the PROWs and a tiny parcel of land owned by Canterbury CC) was owned by the Newing family. Rydon Homes Ltd had an option to buy this land, and it was they who had objected to the application. Their grounds for objection were that the land had been in continuous arable use until 2005 and that it could not, therefore have been used for lawful sports and pastimes; that the land had not been used by a significant number of local residents; that there was no evidence to demonstrate that Littlebourne was either a locality or a neighbourhood within a locality; and that a prohibitory notice had been erected on the land in 2006, bringing any “as of right” use to an end.
(5) The Commons Registration then considered the legal tests, all of which needed to be passed in order for registration to take place. The first of these was whether use of the land had been “as of right.” She said that use of the land had not been with secrecy or permission. There had also been no use of physical force. The objectors had, however, provided colour photographs of signs erected at seven parts of the site in 2006. In their view these notices were sufficient to render use of the site contentious.
(6) The Commons Registration Officer said that the applicants had pointed out that none of the user evidence forms had mentioned the notices and that none of the current Parish Council Members could recall their existence. On their view, these notices must have been taken down very quickly, if they had ever been put up. The objectors had agreed that the signs had been torn down very soon after being erected. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
(1) The Panel noted that Shepway DC (the landowner) had not opposed the recommendation of the Head of Regulatory Services and agreed that, under these circumstances it would not require a less detailed presentation from the Commons Registration Officer than would otherwise have been the case.
(2) The Commons Registration Officer tabled a revised Appendix D, showing an amended plan of the beach huts, which were recommended for exclusion from the proposed registration.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer reported that the application had been made by Mr D Plumstead on 12 August 2010 under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006. The application had been reported to the Regulation Committee Member Panel meeting on 17 July 2012 where the decision had been taken to refer the case to a non-statutory public inquiry in order to clarify the issues.
(4) The Commons Registration Officer went on to explain that the reason for reference to a non-statutory public inquiry had been that Shepway DC as the landowner had objected on the grounds that the land in question was a working fishermen’s beach. The District Council had, however, decided not to attend the public inquiry, which had nevertheless needed to be held in order to establish the facts of the case. The Inspector had subsequently produced a report on her findings in February 2014.
(5) The Commons Registration Officer briefly summarised the Inspector’s findings. She had been satisfied that use of the land had been “as of right” because, although the landowner had erected signs, their content had not been sufficient to cause informal recreational use to become contentious. Nor was there any evidence that the landowner had either expressly or implicitly given permission for such use. The Inspector had also considered that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the land in question had been used for the purposes of lawful sports and pastimes. She had also concluded that the application land had been used extensively used by inhabitants of the locality of South Ward in Hythe throughout the relevant period (up to May 2010) for informal recreation. The application had been made in August 2010, well within the two-year period of grace. The Inspector’s conclusion had therefore been that the majority of the land should be registered.
(6) The Inspector had, however, exempted the fishermen’s huts and winch casings as these had been uses for purposes which were not compatible with recreational use. As a consequence, she had recommended that no part of the application site upon which a hut or winch casing had stood at any time during the twenty year period to May 2010 would qualify for registration.
(7) The Commons Registration Officer concluded her presentation by saying that she had carefully considered the Inspector’s report and considered that all the necessary tests had been met in respect of the application land (except for the huts and winch casings). She therefore recommended accordingly.
(8) Mr D Plumstead (applicant) submitted a written rebuttal of a statement made by Mr Chambers ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
(1) The Commons Registration Officer briefly reported that Brabourne PC had submitted an application for a voluntary registration of the site under section 15 (8) of the Commons Act 2006. She added that the land in question was wholly owned by the applicant and that there were no other leaseholders or owners of relevant charges. There had also been no objections to the registration. Consequently, all the necessary criteria for voluntary registration of the land had been fulfilled.
(2) RESOLVED that the applicant be informed that the application to register the land known as The Warren at Brabourne Lees has been accepted and that the land subject to the application be formally registered as a Village Green.