Campaigner loses Poole village green fight

A director at campaign group the Campaign for Planning Sanity has lost his High Court fight to have a recreation ground declared a 'village green' in order to protect it from development.

Chris Maile had sought the go-ahead for a judicial review challenge to Poole Borough Council’s decision not to register Branksome Rec as a village green.

However, Judge Philip Mott QC refused him permission for a full judicial review hearing. The judge ruled that his case was not arguable.

As a result, Maile will have to pay £2,728 for the legal costs run up by the local council in opposing the legal action.

The judge told Maile that it was the "end of the line" for his legal challenge to the decision, and that he could take the case no further. However, Maile expressed the hope that he would find an avenue for appeal.
 
Although Maile does not live in that area of Poole, he represented Branksome residents in a hearing before a planning inspector during the application to register the council-owned site. He argued that that the inspector’s recommendation – on which the council refused the application – was flawed.
 
Under village and town green laws, anyone applying to register a site must show 20 years use as of right by a significant number of residents of a locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality.
 
The residents relied on 20 years of use from 1989 and the Branksome West ward as their locality, but the inspector took the view that, since this administrative area was only created in 2003, when the Bourne Valley ward was split, it did not qualify. He concluded that, since between 1989 and 2003, it did not exist, it could not be used as a locality to found an application to register a town or village green.

Maile argued at the High Court that the inspector should have considered alternative localities that the residents could rely on, such as the whole of Poole or the old Bourne Valley ward.
 
But the judge said: "The inspector disagreed, as do I." He added that there must be a "cohesiveness" to an area to qualify it as a suitable locality, and that the inspector’s decision on the point was reasonable.
 
"It follows in my judgment that this application must fail on the locality issue," he said.

Although the decision does not prevent the public from continuing to use Branksome Rec for walking, sports and other pastimes, it means that it is not protected from development, subject to the council’s planning policies.


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