This morning I went to Highworth, near Swindon, and stood for some time in a high wind on the new village green at Barra Close. This is land which the Open Spaces Society helped the community to register as a green in 2010.
The purpose of my visit was to do an interview for BBC TV’s Inside Out programme which will focus on the conflict between communities and developers, where local people want to register land as a town or village green to record their rights of recreation there, and developers want to build on it-but can’t because 19th century laws prevent greens from being encroached on.
Developers are claiming that people are using the greens law vexatiously to prevent development but such claims are grossly exaggerated and not backed up by evidence.
Defra appears to want to change the law to make it harder to register land as a green, for instance by restricting the type of land to the traditional village-centre green. Such a rule would prevent Barra Close from being registered, yet it is a real asset to the people who live round about. (Land qualifies as a green if local people have used it for informal recreation, without being stopped or asking permission, for at least 20 years.)
These points will all be argued on the TV programme on 16 January, so make sure you watch it!