Home ... Herne Bay ... Open Spaces Society

Open Spaces Society

OPEN SPACES SOCIETY

NEWS RELEASE

OPEN SPACES SOCIETY DELIGHTED THAT HERNE BAY DOWNS ARE SET TO BECOME A VILLAGE GREEN

The Open Spaces Society is delighted that the Downs at Herne Bay in Kent are set to be registered as a village green. An inspector, appointed by Kent County Council, has recommended to the council that the land be registered.

The
application was made by Phil Rose of the Friends of the Downs in
September 2009.  Because the landowner, Canterbury City Council,
objected, there was a public inquiry starting in November 2011.

The
inspector, Miss Lana Wood, concluded that 43 acres of beautiful coastal
downland met the criteria for a green, ie that they had been enjoyed by
local people for informal recreation, for 20 years, without being
stopped or asking permission.  The total application area was 50 acres
but she concluded that seven acres had been fenced off for engineering
works and therefore were excluded from public use during part of the
20-year period.

Canterbury
City Council claimed that the land was held under the Public Health Act
1875 and therefore had, in effect, been used with the council’s
permission and therefore did not qualify as a green.  The inspector
concluded that the council had not proved that it held the land under
that Act during the relevant period (1989-2009).  Mr Rose produced
evidence from 64 people, 36 of whom gave evidence at the inquiry, who
had used the land freely.

The
city council has until 4 January to raise any objections to the
decision, after which Kent County Council will consider the inspector’s
recommendation.

Says
Phil Rose: ‘This is great news for Herne Bay.  The Downs is the largest
open space in town.  For many years residents and visitors have used it
for recreation, from flying kites to playing bagpipes!

‘Nearly
1,200 people completed detailed questionnaires in support of this
application.  We’ve spent hundreds of pounds and thousands of hours
publicising the application, leafleting, collecting questionnaires and
witness statements, answering the city council’s objections, researching
the historical and legal background of the Downs, producing our
statements to support our case and working through the eight-day public
inquiry.’

Adds Kate
Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society which supported
and assisted the Friends of the Downs with their case: ‘This is a
wonderful result for the Friends and shows that hard work and
persistence pays off.  We just hope that Kent County Council now
registers the Downs as a green, to protect this wonderful open space for
all to enjoy.’

Check Also

Kingsmead Field sell-off is ‘simply illogical’

Campaigners are urging the city council to use its draft Local Plan consultation for a …