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Warning over the threat to village greens
3:00pm Sunday 17th March 2013 in Local news
A conservation group which supported the Yeadon Banks campaign for village green status is warning that government bills could destroy ancient rights.
The Open Spaces Society, which was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body, says new laws could prevent the public from enjoying village greens.
Writing in the society’s magazine general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “The government is striking at the very heart of prescription – the ancient right whereby an activity enjoyed for 20 years, unchecked, openly and without permission, acquires the sanction of law.
“That is how village greens are won, on the basis of 20 years’ enjoyment for recreation.
“The Growth and Infrastructure Bill will outlaw any application for village green on land which is earmarked for development – even though the earmarking may have been done in secret.”
She added: “And even where we still have greens and open spaces, we may find we can no longer enjoy them.
“The draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill proposes to replace the current, nasty, gating orders, with even nastier ‘public spaces protection orders’ – in fact, exclusion orders.
“Unless the draft bill is amended, these orders may be applied to public paths and open spaces, including commons and greens.
“After limited consultation, they will make trespass there a criminal offence: unprecedented and oppressive.”
The society stepped in to help the campaign to protect Yeadon Banks when its designation as a village green was being repeatedly opposed at appeal.
The land was registered as a village green by Leeds City Council in 2007. But campaigners were forced to keep on fighting after attempts by Leeds Group plc, which owns some of the 12-acre site, to overturn the decision.
Yeadon Banks was finally saved from the threat of development last year after a Supreme Court decision that protects its village green status.