County council rejects Long Bennington village green claim on land proposed for housing

The land at the centre of the dispute.
The land at the centre of the dispute.
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Campaigners have lost their bid to secure village green status for land which has also been put forward to be developed into housing.

Long Bennington Parish Council had applied to Lincolnshire County Council for the land behind The Royal Oak pub to be registered as a village green.

This same piece of land is also where the owners, NewRiver Retail Property Unit Trust, have submitted an application to South Kesteven District Council to build eight houses. This application has been held in abeyance until LCC’s decision.

The application for village green status came before LCC’s planning and regulation committee on Monday, who decided to go along with the recommended rejection.

In order to secure town or village green status, applicants must prove through submitted evidence that ‘a significant number of inhabitants of any locality or of any neighbourhood within the locality indulge as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years and that the use has continued up to 12 months before the date of the application.’

In the report to the committee, Mandy Wood of LCC’s legal services stated: “The evidence submitted is lacking in detail, none of the users state to have actually used the land, apart from attending organised activities, the evidence does not provide information as to how long the stated use has continued nor how often or when the use has been. As it appears that the use of the land has been occasional use by individuals and not general use by the community as a whole.”

This is contested by campaigner and Long Bennington resident Ruth Tytherley, who said: “I’m really disappointed about the decision and it’s devastating for Long Bennington. The land has been used for years for the benefit of the public and patrons of the pub. However proving the necessary evidence of this, which is extremely prescribed and technical in the way that we have discovered is required, makes a successful village green planning application utterly impossible in the context of members of the public being able to support the parish council.”

She added: “We are desperate to keep this special part of Long Bennington for the villagers. It’s located in the centre of the village – it’s like ripping the heart out.”

The Sparrow Lane homeowner confirmed that she and other villagers would continue their fight against the proposed housing, particularly given that the land was flooded last year. “The field remains saturated, as does the adjacent countryside,” she added.