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Inquiry could decide fate of Downs

The battle to get a Bay beauty spot registered as a village green looks likely to go to a public inquiry. Council officers made the decision after admitting the “volume and complexity” of the case for the Downs meant an inquiry would be necessary. Save the Downs group head Phil Rose said he was frustrated by the slow progress:

“A huge amount of time has been spent producing comprehensive replies to the dozens of pages of (presumably expensive) objections written for Canterbury City Council by London barristers. Given the clear and strong local support for the application, why have our councillors allowed unelected officers to squander public money fighting the wishes of the Herne Bay people?”

The battle started after the council proposed building 40 beach huts on the downs near Beacon Hill at East Cliff. To protect the Downs Mr Rose pushed to get it registered as a village green. Council spokesman Rob Davies said the site was not suitable for a village green. A final decision on whether it will be decided via a public inquiry will be made on June 13. But Mr Rose said council objections were not clear:

“The council objected to the village green application on the grounds that they wouldn’t be able to maintain the land if it was registered as a village green. Not true – they already maintain village greens in Whitstable.”

Bay councillor Peter Vickery-Jones said it was not necessary to register the land as a village green. He said:

“There’s a faction in this town that never wants anything to be done. The Downs was never under threat. I’m not opposed to it being registered as a village green but it’s just unnecessary. We could never build on it, for engineering reasons amongst others. I just want to say, for God’s sake, let’s get this town back on its feet and stop seeing everything as a threat.”

HB Times 26th May 2011

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  1. I'm delighted that Cllr Vickery-Jones has no objection to the Downs being registered as a village green – as he says, not everything is a threat.

  2. Funny how Peter VJ was all in favour of the beach huts being built ON the Downs and after 18 months of wasted tax payers money the Engineering department ( who had been ignored up to then) came to the fore to say the huts would interfere with drainage and movement instruments. PVJ changes like the weather and all of his comments are not totally true. I for one believe (until proved otherwise) that everything from CCC is a threat.