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Council ‘is not right on Downs’

The Council says that village green status would block maintenance work on The Downs – this is nonsense.

Preservation body pans decision

Campaigners have hit back at council plans to block protection for a town beauty spot. Our exclusive story last week revealed that officials were considering an application to register the Downs, at Beacon Hill, as a village green to protect it from development. But Canterbury City Council bosses are planning to oppose the scheme, lodged by the Save Our Downs campaign, because they maintain it would block vital maintenance work. Campaign co-ordinator Phil Rose said he had information to the contrary. He said:

“The council first raised this concern with us in December 2009. The campaign team immediately spoke to the Open Spaces Society who are experts on the subject. We spoke to Kent County Council’s village greens registration team. We spoke to the legal advisors at the Secretary of State’s department. We did some legal research with the Planning Inspectorate. They all agreed that there is no problem. The upshot of all our research is that the council’s fears are groundless. Legally if the maintenance work is ‘with a view to the better enjoyment’ of the village green, then the council can do that work without seeking permission.”

Mr Rose, of Beacon Hill, said maintenance work to protect the area would be included as work for the “better enjoyment” of the area. He added:

“My house is on the edge of the Downs – I have no interest in stopping the council from doing any maintenance work. There’s even a legal option for the council to give itself advance permission for specific works like drainage, raising, levelling or preventing accidents. This should be enough to put everyone’s mind at rest.”

He is encouraging people to contact Canterbury City Council chief executive Colin Carmichael to urge him to back the application.

HB Times 15th Apr 2010

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