Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Memorandum submitted by Pauline Bradley (GIB 15)

The Growth & Infrastructure Bill concerning Village Greens

1). I believe the approach you seem to think will work in future to identify local village greens, by registering genuine village greens before proposals for development or other uses, has been tried under previous legislation and that local councils failed to act on behalf of the people they represent – as in the Pucklechurch case CR.167. This approach didn’t seem to work then!

2). The Law seems to be swinging  from one extreme to the other  under different particular government - as with many other issues that people care deeply about. Can’t the pledges of the locals council be upheld? i.e. to provide a certain amount of open space, of various categories, per person for recreation (as in South Gloucestershire Council’s own published blurb). If this could be achieved – if the councils were indeed properly accountable and made to carry out the written promises made in their own publications - it would obviate the  need for this swinging legislation!

3). The Commons Act 2006 provided for genuine village green applications to be scrutinised against specific criteria in order to ascertain their validity. This Bill seeks to take away that right from the local people and give all rights to our County Councils who are then able to sell this public right to open space, given by the Government on behalf of the people they represent for their health and well-being, as shown in the Pucklechurch case.

4). Specifically in Pucklechurch the villagers I have spoken to were not aware of the intention of the local council to put forward planning proposals (again) on the land in question prior to the posting of notices on the lamp posts and through a few letterboxes.

5). In the case of the planning application in Pucklechurch, SGC were accepting a £123,000 pay off from the developer, for the lack of open space because they would be building on  the only green space left in the village! Not one county councillor (from SGC, Bristol or BANES) or the Parish council (at that time) or my local MP would even bat an eyelid. Despite this lack of open space in the village, the number of local and environmental objections to the planning application and the size of the development, SGC didn’t even think it necessary to put this case before the relevant planning committee. The local people were not allowed to be heard before or after the planning proposals, all the objections made were not even properly taken into account.

6). Please do not support the legislation, as indicated above, until there are people in the right position within the local councils to uphold all the marvellous ideals actually written and published by our councils and under various Acts of Parliament, about the public need for open space, or is that all propaganda? - as the majority of us here feel we have found out – if so can you wonder that many people can see no reason to vote?

7). The words and ideas upheld over many years regarding the need for those relatively small open spaces to be maintained for the health, well-being and peace of mind of the public are in danger of being wiped out under this Bill and without the seriousness even being recognised or properly publicised. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves, it is a very sad situation and one that leaves less faith in the power to have a small voice.

November 2012

Prepared 21st November 2012