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Bill proposals to change village green regime under fire

Words: Roger Milne

Campaigners have claimed that town and village greens could be destroyed by “draconian" proposals in the government’s Planning Bill.

The principles of the draft legislation are about to be scrutinised by the Welsh Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee.

A number of Assembly Members have already said they will press for changes to the government’s plans to change the planning regime for town and village greens.

Ministers claim their measures would stop “vexatious” bids to register greens as a tactic to frustrate development.

However, environmental charity The Open Spaces Society has defended the existing system. Society Case officer Nicola Hodgson warned: “The proposals in the bill will prohibit the registration of land as a town or village green where that land has been identified for development.

“They also enable landowners to deposit statements with the registration authority, challenging people’s use of the land. Once the notices have been deposited, people have only one year in which to gather evidence and apply to register the site.

"There is scant evidence to justify the proposals in the bill and we shall give oral evidence to the Assembly committee, urging that the plans are reconsidered.”

The Planning Bill has already been criticised for centralising power and failing to do enough to protect the Welsh language.