Canterbury District Green Party

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Kingsmead Field and related Open Space issues.

From the Save Kingsmead Field campaign

Dear Kingsmead Field supporters

Apologies for emailing again this week.  The purpose of this email is to provide a very quick update on three issues of relevance to Kingsmead Field and the protection of open space, namely coverage of the Scrutiny debate; Canterbury Society's Vision for the Future of Canterbury and a major new threat to future Village Green applications.

Press Coverage
There is coverage of Wednesday's Scrutiny Committee meeting on page 8 of this week's Gazette, and we have been told that there will be extensive coverage in next week's Canterbury Times.  For this week's coverage, see:

Audio version of the Scrutiny debate
The audio version of Wednesday's Scrutiny debate can be heard on the link below.  The presentations by members of the public are at the beginning of the recording, while the statements by councillors and the subsequent debate begin at 1:08:28 : 

Vision for the Future of Canterbury
Canterbury Society will be publishing its 'Vision for the Future of Canterbury' in the coming days.  This has been produced after extensive consultation via Residents Associations, public meetings and questionnaires.  The consultations have revealed that two of the key concerns for local people are the lack of protection for open space and the way in which the district is governed.  The case of Kingsmead Field has brought both issues to a head.  We will forward a link to the document once it has been published.

Threat to Village Green applications
The new Growth and Infrastructure Bill was published on 18 October as part of the government's plans to boost economic growth by speeding up planning.  It is proposing to block all applications for Village Green status for any land that has been identified by Councils or landowners for development.  It claims that this is to prevent 'vexatious' applications.  If it is adopted, it would immediately block future Village Green applications for cases similar to the Chaucer Fields and Kingsmead Field - though fortunately it cannot be applied in retrospect.  The Open Spaces Society is appealing to people who value open spaces to write to their MP before the second reading of the bill on Tuesday 30 October to ask them to vote against clause 13 - see below for details.  The email address for MP Julian Brazier is:   
I promise that there will be no more emails from us for at least a week!

Best wishes

(Coordinator, Save Kingsmead Field campaign)

From the Open Spaces Society.

Subject: Growth & Infrastructure Bill - the threat to town and village greens

Dear Member
The Growth and Infrastructure Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 30 October.  Please write urgently to your MP to press him or her to speak against clause 13.  This will make it more difficult, if not downright impossible, to register land in England as a town or village green once it has been identified for development. 

The government wants to stop ‘vexatious’ applications to register greens which, it claims, are being submitted solely to thwart development.  In fact few applications are purely vexatious and the clause has the effect of killing genuine applications too.

The Bill says that a ‘trigger event’—which includes first publication of a planning application or identification of the land for potential development in a local or neighbourhood plan—puts an immediate stop on any new application to register the land as a green.  The trigger event may not even be public. 

Furthermore, as soon as this part of the Act takes effect, no application to register can be made for land already subject to a trigger event unless that application has already been submitted.

When writing to your MP do, if you can, cite an example of a green in the constituency which has been registered in the last few years, is clearly being used and enjoyed by local people, and which might not have been registered had the Growth and Infrastructure Bill been law at the time.  Send us your examples too.

The Open Spaces Society is briefing MPs to speak against this, and will be drafting amendments for the committee stage of the Bill.  We shall keep you posted on progress.

Do contact me if you need further information.  Please act fast, the second reading is on Tuesday.

Thanks for your help.

Kate Ashbrook
General Secretary
The Open Spaces Society
25A Bell Street
Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA
tel 01491 573535, mob 07771 655694
The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).