Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions
Contact: Andrew Tait 03000 416749
(1) The Public Rights of Way and Commons Registration Officer introduced the report by saying that the County Council had received the application to register an area of land known as Two Fields at Westbere as a new Town or Village Green from the Two Fields Action Group. This application had been made under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006.
(2) The Public Rights of Way and Commons Registration Officer continued that the application had previously been considered at a meeting of the Regulation Committee Member Panel on 24th February 2021 when the recommendation, based on legal advice received at that time, had been to reject the application on the grounds that the application site was affected by one of the ‘trigger events’ set out in Schedule 1A of the Commons Act 2006. The Panel had, however, not been sufficiently satisfied that a “trigger event” had occurred and determined that the matter should be referred to a Public Inquiry for further consideration.
(3) Following the meeting, a Pre-Action Protocol letter was received from legal advisors acting on behalf of one of the affected landowners, Bellway Homes Ltd. This advised the County Council that it was their intention to make an application to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the Member Panel’s decision on the basis that it was wrong in law because the application was affected by a “trigger event” prevented the County Council from considering the application further. Consequently, the County Council had sought a second opinion on the matter from Mr. David Forsdick QC. The advice received was that the issue in question was far from clear-cut and that the available case law was open to interpretation. He had suggested that the County Council ought to take further representations on the issue of the alleged “trigger event” the and, following consultation with the relevant parties, this could be achieved by way of written submissions (as opposed to hearing oral representations in a Public Inquiry forum). It was then agreed that the County Council would proceed to further consider the issue of whether a “trigger event” existed prior to reaching a final verdict on this matter.
(4) The Public Rights of Way and Commons Registration Officer turned to consideration of the issues involved. She said that the case turned upon whether the application site was affected by one or more of the “trigger events” set out in Schedule 1A of the Commons Act 2006. For example, ifthe application site was affected by a planning application or had been identified for development in a local or neighbourhood plan, the County Council would not be able to consider an application to register the land in question as a Village Green.
(5) The Public Rights of Way and Commons Registration Officer said that in this case, two of the affected landowners had submitted that the application site was the subject of one of the trigger events specified in Schedule 1A as paragraph 4 of Schedule 1A stated ... view the full minutes text for item 5.