Landmark village green win in Supreme Court

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Fri Mar 5 18:43:21 GMT 2010

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Landmark village green win

Domenic Donatantonio, PlanningResource 3rd March 2010

Campaigners have won a landmark victory at the Supreme Court today to save a 
seafront open space from developers.

A six-year battle by five local residents over the area at Redcar ended with 
the local council being ordered to register Coatham common as a town or 
village green.

The unanimous decision by five Justices is expected to have a major impact on 
similar campaigns to save green sites, according to lawyers.

Friends of Coatham Common had applied to have the local authority-owned land 
registered under the Commons Act in their fight to stop a £55 million housing-
led development.

They had to show that "as of right" they had used the land for sports and 
pastimes for 20 years.

An inspector who conducted a public inquiry recommended the land should not be 
registered after he found that although it had been used for sports for 
decades, the locals had "deferred" to players when it was a golf course.

Both the High Court and Court of Appeal found in favour of the local council.

But Lord Walker, in the ruling today, said he had "great difficulty" in seeing 
how a land owner would have concluded that residents were not asserting a 
right to take recreation on the land "simply because they normally showed 
civility - or in the inspector's word, deference - towards members of the golf 

One of the leaders of The Friends of Coatham Common, Charlie Davis said: "This 
is amazing. After years of battling to save this green space, where 
generations of Coatham people have played football and cricket, we have finally 
won the day."

Andrew Lockley, head of public Law at Irwin Mitchell, said: "I pay tribute to 
the steely determination of the people of Coatham, who have finally triumphed 
through setback after setback.

"This victory means that other groups who want to use green space and preserve 
it from development will find it easier to do so. This is a very good day for 
local campaigners who care about protecting green space in their community."

Planning permission was granted for the development in 2007.

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(Edward Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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