Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Andrew Tait 03000 416749
(1) The Panel Members had all received an electronic copy of the Inspector’s report dated 6 August 2015 prior to the meeting
(2) The Chairman informed the Panel that he had previously lived in the vicinity of the site in question. He had not been involved at any stage in the application and was able to approach the determination of the application with a fresh mind.
(3) The Commons Registration Officer introduced the application which had been made under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 and the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008. She referred to Appendix A of the report which showed the location of the site as well as the Public Rights of Way and tracks which crossed it. She also provided photographs of the site including the brown signs (Appendix B) that the Inspector concluded had been erected in 1990 which stated “This land is private property and access by members of the public is by licence only and may be revoked at any time.”
(4) The Commons Registration Officer then said that the University of Kent (landowner) had erected blue signs in March 2011, and that this had been made by a group of local resident shortly thereafter in April 2011.
(5) The Commons Registration Officer went on to say that the University of Kent as the landowner had objected to the application. They had claimed that the documentation submitted in support of the application had not been sufficient to prove that use of the land for lawful sports and pastimes had been by a significant number of residents of the locality; that use of the land had been with permission communicated by notices positioned at each entrance to the site; and that such use as had occurred had been confined to public footpaths and “desire lines”.
(6) The application had been considered by a Regulation Committee Member Panel on 11 September 2012. The decision had been taken to accept the recommendation to refer the matter to a Public Inquiry. This Inquiry had taken place in February and March 2015.
(7) The Commons Registration Officer moved on to consideration of the Inspector’s consideration of the legal tests, each of which had to be met in full for registration to take place. She explained that the task for the Panel was to consider whether it could be shown that a significant number of the residents of a locality or of any neighbourhood within a locality had indulged as of rights in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years.
(8) The first test was whether use of the land had been as of right. It had been agreed by the landowner that use of the land had not been by force or stealth. The University of Kent’s objection had been on the basis that use of the site had been with permission. The Inquiry had heard evidence regarding various signs which were said to have been put up before 1990. ... view the full minutes text for item 2.