To consider the report of the Independent Expert
The Committee considered the report of the Independent Expert on the application to register land adjoining Swift Road, Bamford, Rochdale as a village green.
The Council was the registration authority for village greens and the responsibility for this function was delegated to the Public Rights of Way Committee under the constitution. A delegation of powers to determine this application on behalf of Rochdale Borough Council (RBC) had been accepted by the Public Rights of Way Committee at its meeting on 13 June 2016.
The application was submitted to RBC by Mrs Janice Arden on 23 June 2015. The application related to a piece of land adjoining Swift Road, Bamford. When accepting the application, RBC’s Legal Service Section has confirmed that there had been no trigger or terminating events in respect of the land and that the application could be processes. RBC had undertook a 6 week period of public consultation when the plan of the application land was available for inspection, site notices erected and details published in the Rochdale Observer. The consultation ran from 22 July to 2 September 2015.
RBC, in its capacity as landowner, objected to the application. As an objection had been received to the application it was forwarded to an Independent Expert – Mr Timothy Jones, for consideration. The Independent Expert was provided with copies of the application, plan and supporting information in the forms of witness statements and correspondence as well as RBC’s objection letter and the response from the applicant.
The Independent Expert provided his report – appended to the Report, and having considered the ownership of the land, planning permission in respect of the land, the objection submitted by RBC’s Property Services Section and the statements submitted in support of the application concluded that no part of the land should be registered as a village green and recommended that the land not be registered and that there was no need to hold a public inquiry. The basis for his conclusion was that RBC had given permission to the public to use the land and that those residents who had been informed that the land was for communal or resident’s use had been correctly informed.
Councillor Patricia Sullivan, ward member for Bamford, spoke in support of the application saying she was disappointed with the Independent Expert had recommended that the application be rejected on the technicality that residents used the land with permission from the Council when they were not aware that the Council owned the land. The land was marked on their deeds as ‘village green. The area did not have parks or play areas for residents to use.
Mr David Fitton, Chairman of Bamford Village Green Group, spoke in support of the application saying he was devastated that the recommendation of the Independent Expert was to reject the application based on a technicality. The area was designed as village green on the residents’ deeds and there were no other green spaces on the estate. The land was well used and asked the Committee to save it for future generations.
The Committee considered the report and recommendations of the Independent Expert and the comments made by the public speakers and by majority
That the report of the Independent Expert, Mr Timothy Jones, be accepted and that the application to register land adjoining Swift Road, Bamford, Rochdale as a village green be rejected for the reasons set out in the Independent Expert’s report.