Rejected: Planning Inspectorate says school playing field cannot be registered as a village green

The application was to register the land around which the red line is drawn as a village green.
The application was to register the land around which the red line is drawn as a village green.
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The Planning Inspectorate has today rejected an application to register a school playing field as a village green to save it from development.

The playing field at Egerton Rothersay School was originally part of plans by Taylor Wimpey for 180 new homes off Durrants Lane, Berkhamsted.

The firm had agreed with the school that it would fund a new and ‘greatly improved’ playing field nearby, in return for being allowed to build on the land.

But Save Your Berkhamsted Residents Association (SYBRA) says the people who live next door have used the area to walk dogs, picnic and play football for more than 20 years.

Secretary Alan O’Neill says the playing field was only closed to the public as Taylor Wimpey’s proposals took shape in the summer of 2010.

SYBRA tried to register the site as a village green to protect it – and Peter Millman, from the Planning Inspectorate, heard its arguments during an inquiry last week.

Herts County Council, which owns the land, opposed the application – as did Dacorum Borough Council, which has planning targets for homes-building to meet.

Mr Millman rejected SYBRA’s case, saying today that its leaders had not provided him with all of the relevant paperwork to support its arguments.

Other reasons for the refusal, published today in a Planning Inspectorate report, include the fact that a path leading to the playing field has been fenced off for years.

The report says: “The applicant called no witnesses, made no legal submissions, referred to no legal authorities and produced no submissions or evidence, apart from a map, in relation to the issue of neighbourhood.

“In addition to this, those representing the applicant at the inquiry decided not to cross-examine any of the objectors’ witnesses. The applicant’s statement of case consisted of three short paragraphs.

“In the event, three people gave oral evidence to the inquiry in support of the application.

“These were local people, two of whom had used the field, and one who had seen others using it, for recreation. These witnesses were, in my view, credible and honest.”

You can read more about last week’s planning inquiry by clicking here