Environment: ‘Get a green’ call to protect open space

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The Open Spaces Society Britain’s leading pressure-group for greens, has called on communities throughout England to ‘get a green’ as part of the new neighbourhood planning system.

This year communities throughout England will be developing their new neighbourhood development plans under the Localism Act 2011.

This involves identifying where development should and should not take place.

However, the law prevents development on land which has been registered as a town or village green, defined as land where local people have enjoyed informal recreation for 20 years, without being stopped or given permission.

General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: ‘It is vital that local people identify those areas of land where they have enjoyed at least 20 years of informal recreation, before the land is threatened with development.

“Then they can apply to register them as greens and protect the land and their rights for the future. Once planning permission has been given it may be too late.

“The new neighbourhood development plans provide a wonderful opportunity for people to think about how they use the land in their area and, if they believe they have land which qualifies as a green, to gather evidence of its use and submit an application to the county or unitary council to register it as a green.

“The Open Spaces Society can help people through the process. We urge them to start now. Make 2012 the Year of the Town and Village Green.”

But the process is under threa, she warns. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under pressure from developers, is reviewing the system for registering land as a green with a view to making it more difficult and restricted.

And that, she says, is why you need to get in now with applications based on good evidence.’