Venue: The Swan Public House, 75 Sea Road, Westgate-on-Sea CT8 8QG
Contact: Andrew Tait 01622 694342
(1) The Panel Members visited the site before the meeting. This visit was attended by Mr G Rickett (applicant), Mr P Luxmore (Executive Headteacher, King Ethelbert School) and Mr R Safferey (Business Manager, King Ethelbert School).
(2) The Commons Registration Officer introduced the application which had been made under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 by Mr G Rickett. An objection to the application had been received from King Ethelbert School. The application had been considered at a meeting of the Panel on 26 February 2013 where it had been agreed to refer the matter to a non-statutory Public Inquiry. The minutes from that meeting were contained in the report (Appendix B).
(3) The Commons Registration Officer informed the Panel that the Public Inquiry had been held over five days in November 2013 and that the Inspector’s report had been received on 25 March 2014. The Commons Registration Officer then moved on to outline the Inspector’s findings and conclusions in respect of the five legal tests which needed to be passed for registration to take place.
(4) The first test had been whether use of the land had been “as of right.” The Inspector had concluded that use had neither been on a permissive nor a secretive basis. Although the objectors had contended that some members of staff might have verbally challenged some users, they had been unable to point to any named individuals who had been asked to leave the site. There had therefore been insufficient evidence to demonstrate that use of the land had been contentious. As a consequence, the Inspector had found that use of the land had been “as of right.”
(5) The second test was whether use of the land had been for the purposes of lawful sports and pastimes. The Inspector had heard evidence from the applicant’s witnesses of a range of activities taking place on site, including walking, running, photography, playing with children, blackberrying and nature observation. The objector had claimed that such informal use had been concentrated around the perimeter and was therefore more consistent with a “public rights of way” type of use. The Inspector had found that use had taken place on the whole of the site and that it would not have appeared to a reasonable landowner to have been limited to any particular path or route. Consequently, she had concluded that use of the whole site had been of a sufficient nature and intensity to give rise to Village Green rights.
(6) The third test was whether use had been by a significant number of inhabitants of a particular locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality. The applicant had identified “the Linksfield Estate within the locality of the ecclesiastical parish of St Saviour’s, Westgate-on-Sea. The Inspector had considered whether the fact that the identified neighbourhood’s name was not used by local residents within the area. She had found that this did not bar registration of the land as a Village Green as the neighbourhood relied ... view the full minutes text for item 7.