My last act on Friday, before leaving the Open Spaces Society’s office for the weekend, was to look in the files for examples of new village greens in Warwickshire. This was in preparation for a workshop I was running at a seminar organised by the Warwickshire and West Midlands Association of Local Councils last Saturday, 1 March.
I found a note from Open Spaces Society member Geoff Wiskin telling us of the green which was registered in April 2013 in Myton Lane, Warwick.
That was a nice coincidence, because the seminar was at the nearby Myton School. After it had finished I popped round the corner to find the new green.
I turned off Myton Road into Myton Lane, by this intriguing sign
next to this equally intriguing lodge, dated 1883.
The green is just beyond here, a delightful spot known as Myton Lane Spinney or The Copse. It’s a half-acre strip of mature woodland along the south side Myton Lane, running parallel with Myton Road but separated from it by houses and gardens. The green has a well-used path and a host of snowdrops.
It was nice to meet Geoff Wiskin gardening at his Myton Lane house opposite the green, and to chat to him about his success.
In order to register land as a green, the applicant must demonstrate that the land has been used by a significant number of local people for informal recreation at least 20 years, without being stopped or being given or asking permission. Geoff’s application was exemplary.
He wrote: The Spinney has been in existence since the early 1930s. It has formed a green screen between the housing in Myton Road and the land to the north.
The Spinney had and still has as-of-right access for all to enjoy. Statements from a former resident of 1946 and current residents from 1955 testify to its continual use for the observation of flora and fauna, bird-watching, children at play, walking the footpath, dog-walking and conservation work.
In short, Myton Lane Spinney offers unimpeded public as-of-right access, free to all ages and social groups, to a wildlife corridor. Participation, awareness and appreciation of this fact have been expressed by neighbouring residents and those in the locality.
The objectors were the landowner, Warwickshire County Council, and the owners of some of the houses on Myton Road, with long gardens which back onto the green. These are older, and larger, than the newer houses along Myton Lane, opposite the Spinney, and the surrounding housing estates where the majority of supporters for the green live. The objectors had used a template in preparing their submissions, which were largely the same and were unconvincing. They claimed that few people used the green for informal recreation, but Geoff called plenty of witnesses who had used it.
The Spinney was originally part of Myton Grange Farm which ceased to be a working farm in the mid 1970s. The county council bought the land in 1935 as part of its smallholdings estate which has over the years been developed for residential purposes and sold to developers. The Spinney is a residue remaining in council ownership and has been maintained as woodland.
Because of the objections the county council, as registration authority as well as landowner, organised a public inquiry in September 2012 with an independent inspector, solicitor Michael Blamire-Brown. Having heard the evidence, the inspector found that all the tests for green registration were met. The county council resolved to register the green in June 2013.
And so this lovely stretch of land is saved for ever, thanks to Geoff Wiskin and his supporters.