LGA calls for action on 'vexatious' village green applications

‘Vexatious’ claims for village green designations are preventing the construction of affordable homes and costing taxpayers millions of pounds, according to umbrella group the Local Government Association (LGA).

In its response to a government consultation on village greens, the LGA is calling on the government to give councils more powers to tackle "malicious, vexatious and incomplete proposals at an early stage in the process".  The body says this means allowing councils to quickly identify frivolous claims, with the ability to claim back costs from these applications.

As part of its response, the LGA gives three examples of village green applications:

 - a site proposed for village green status in St Austell, Cornwall, included beach huts and a car park. It was ruled by an inspector not to meet the criteria for a village green.

 - in Beadnell in Northumberland, a residents group has applied for village green status for a brownfield site that had been used for storing fishing nets.  A public inquiry, the costs of which the LGA says will be borne by local taxpayers, finished on 28th November.  A decision is expected in January, the LGA says.

 - Poole Council has received two village green applications in the past year – one of which was rejected and the other of which is still ongoing.  So far the council has spent £75,000 dealing with the application that was rejected, and the LGA says the council may have to spend a further £30,000 if the case goes to judicial review.

LGA environment and housing board chairman cllr David Parsons said: "The right balance needs to be reached between looking after genuine village greens and the provision of affordable housing, services and jobs which local areas badly need.  Councils are reliable and can be trusted to perform this function effectively.

"Unfortunately, millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are currently being spent by councils processing village green applications whose primary aim is to prevent development. Councils are ready to transform and regenerate local areas, but these long delays are preventing job growth and new affordable housing in our local communities".

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