Yes, it’s still going on! It’s 2,770 days since I applied to register the Downs as a village green, and I think we’ve just made a big step forward.
The previous administration at Canterbury City Council was dead set against the idea of a village green, and fought it tooth and nail. Following the local elections, we have a change of cast at the Council, and a very welcome change it has been. The new administration, led by Cllr Simon Cook, has proved altogether more positive and imaginative, and the contrast couldn’t be more stark.
They have recognised that what is required is a change in the Law that would allow village greens to coexist with coastal defence works. Cllr Cook and the Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael, have sought the help of Sir Julian Brazier to get the necessary amendment put through Parliament. Sir Julian has already had “positive discussions” with Thérèse Coffey, the Minister at Defra.
To help things along, I have written (real letters, not emails!) to all the MPs in England and Wales who represent constituencies that have any coastline – 124 in all – imploring them to help Sir Julian. If we can resolve this conflict between village green law and coast defence law, Canterbury City Council will drop their objection to the application, and the Downs can become a village green. It would also mean that CCC can halt the process of DE-registering existing village greens on the coast at Whitstable. Even better, Cllr Cook has told me that the Council would be happy to see further areas of our coast registered as village greens.