Following a long public inquiry that finished earlier this year, the
Inspector appointed by Kent County Council has recommended that most of
the Downs should officially be registered as a village green.
It’s been a long haul – we submitted the application to register the Downs as a village green on 1st September 2009.
We’ve spent hundreds of pounds and thousands of hours (literally!) publicising the application, writing to the press, building support, collecting questionnaires and witness statements, answering Canterbury City Council’s objections, researching the historical and legal background of the Downs, gathering witnesses for the Inquiry, producing 474 pages of closely argued documentation to support our case, and working through the 8 days of the Public Inquiry itself.
The Inspector’s recommendation is for part-registration, that is to register the majority (about 85%) of the application area, but to exclude two areas from the registration – these are shown on the attached map. The Inspector chose to exclude these areas as she was persuaded by the Council that they had been fenced off for engineering works (and therefore unavailable for public use) for part of the 20 year period.
In practice, I don’t think this is likely to significantly affect the village green as a whole. The two areas excluded from the registration are honey-combed with pipes and drainage systems for coastal protection, and the Council’s own engineers would have a fit of the vapours if anyone suggested tinkering with them, let alone building on them.
However, the registration process isn’t over yet. All parties will now have the opportunity to comment on the Inspector’s report. This is not an opportunity to raise new points of law or present further evidence, but to raise any factual and/or legal inaccuracies in the report. These comments have to be in by 4th January, so it may be a while before we know whether Canterbury City Council plans to continue fighting this application.
So, it’s not yet signed, sealed and delivered, but it does appear that we’re about to achieve 85% of what we’ve been aiming for all this time.
Once again, thank you for your help, and for your support.