The wheels of the planning system grind forward exceptionally slowly… but now there is news!
On 22nd December 2014 an application was made to North Somerset Council for a field, north of Chestnut Drive and adjacent to Streamcross, to be registered as a Village Green under Town and Village Green legislation. This was to protect villagers’ access to, and enjoyment of, the field that had been evident for many, many, years and to establish that it could continue in perpetuity.
North Somerset Council, eventually, decided that an inquiry should be held to establish a recommendation for them to deliberate and make their final ruling. Leslie Blohm QC was selected to run the Inquiry and report with his recommendation. The evidence bundle provided by Claverham residents in favour of the application amounted to 243 pages and provided a multitude of statements and evidence for consideration.
The Inquiry hearing was held on 8th to 10th November 2016 with representations from applicants and the land owners as objectors. The applicants secured the pro bono services of barrister Daniel Bennett from Doughty Street chambers in Bristol who provided invaluable support, guidance and representation to the applicants who record here their heartfelt thanks.
Leslie Blohm QC provided his report and recommendation to North Somerset Council on 6th June 2017 in a comprehensive report which can be read here.
The key points of the Executive Summary are:
(1) There has been no ‘Trigger Event’ within section 15C Commons Act 2006, and the Council should proceed to consider the application;
(2) The Council should consider the application on the basis of alternative amendments put forward by the Applicants, namely that the relevant 20 years use has been by a significant number of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Claverham Ward in the locality of the civil parish of Yatton; and the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Claverham in the parish of Yatton and Claverham;
(3) Claverham Ward is a neighbourhood and the civil parish of Yatton is a locality for the purposes of section 15(2) Commons Act 2006;
(4) Any use of the land the subject of the application that reasonably appeared to the landowner to be lawful by reason of the existence of public footpaths running across the land should be disregarded in assessing whether the requirements of section 15(2) Commons Act 2006 are satisfied;
(5) The evidence shows that a significant number of the inhabitants of Claverham Ward used the land as of right for lawful sports and pastimes for twenty years prior to the Application;