Monday, 30 January 2017

Souldrop Village Green

Souldrop Village Green (VG42)
(Click image to enlarge it)
The Open Spaces Society is calling for local authorities and developers throughout England and Wales to make 2017 the year of the village green. See HERE

Meanwhile, Knotting and Souldrop Parish Council in Bedford Borough has spoilt one of their village greens by developing part of it as a car park. An area where children once played, and where families and friends relaxed, during village hog roasts for example, is now reserved for cars. Presumably, anyone can park there which may present separate problems in the future as well as land ownership issues.

Souldrop Village Green (VG42) was registered as a village green under the terms of the Commons Registration Act 1965. At the time of registration there was no evidence presented to show who owned the land so the then Bedfordshire County Council was directed to register the land as belonging to the parish council. The idea being that the parish council should look after the Green for the purpose it was intended, namely, exercise and recreation. Not car parking.

Here’s what The Planning Inspectorate has to say about village greens in their Common Land Guidance Sheet 2b – Works on Town & Village Green:

“Town and village greens (T&VG) are protected by section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876. Section 12 makes it a criminal offence to do anything which injures a green or interrupts its use as a place for exercise and recreation. Section 29 also makes it an offence to permanently encroach upon or inclose a green, or to build upon or disturb the soil of a green otherwise than with a view to its better enjoyment.”

Knotting & Souldrop Parish Council doesn’t seem to be bothered about acts of parliament, or about requests for information. The Borough Council wasn’t too bothered either but eventually required the parish council to submit a planning application for retrospective permission (the work to spoil the green was carried out in March 2015). It’s taken a year of pestering but the planning application has now been submitted. In my opinion, the application has been drafted sloppily and as a result is inaccurate and misleading but neither council is concerned about that either.

The apparent lack of interest in the preservation of the Green doesn't bode well. Nevertheless, I will object to the planning application because I believe that village greens are hugely important and that the right to use them should be jealously guarded. It's a great shame that the parish council doesn't feel the same way.

See Planning Application 16/03052/S73A HERE [Update 4th March: I find out by chance that the web link is ineffective because the online details have been removed from the Council's website. I'm informed that the application "has been put on hold due to an additional fee request to the applicant."]

Souldrop Village Green (Before)
(Click to enlarge the image)
Souldrop Village Green (Recently)
Up to 3 cars have been seen to park here.
(Click to enlarge the image)

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