To consider the application for a Village Green
The Committee considered the application to register land opposite the entrance to St Vincents RC Primary School adjacent to Caldershaw Road, Cut Lane and Shearing Avenue, Norton, Rochdale as a village green under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006.
The Council was the registration authority for village greens and responsibility for this function was delegated to the Public Rights of Way Committee under the Council’s 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, dated 9 October 2015, had been submitted to RBC by The Friends of Heritage Green c/o Mr Adrian Sutcliffe. 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 8 April to 30 May 2017. No representations were received.
As no objections were received to the application it was initially viewed as appropriate for the Public Rights of Way Committee to consider and determine the application based on a written report as opposed to being forwarded to an Independent Expert for consideration.
However, following preparation of the report for the December meeting of the Public Rights of Way Committee, RBC had submitted a representation stating that the use of the land had been ‘by right’ rather than ‘as of right’ as RBC owned the land for housing purposes and in accordance with powers in the housing legislation, the public had a legal right to use the land.
The report outlined that the first 2 requirements of section 15(2) of the Commons Act 2006 had been satisfied but a determination was required as to whether third such element was satisfied via any such use of the land being ‘as of right’ as opposed to ‘by right’. It was therefore recommended that the matter be referred to an Independent Expert for determination.
Councillor Michael Holly, ward councillor for Norden spoke in support of the application and that he was disappointed that the decision was no longer for approval with RBC objecting so late in the process.
Mr Mark Hope, Friends of Heritage Green spoke in support of the application saying that RBC were aware of the application and had had two opportunities to submit their objections during the consultation phases and asked the Committee to consider the original recommendation for approving the application.
The Committee considered the report before them and the comments made by the public speakers.
The Committee by majority
1 the application along with all the background information is sent to an Independent Expert experienced in determining Town and Village Green Applications to determine:-
a) whether the application can be determined on the papers or if a non-statutory public inquiry is required to be held; and
b) to issue such timetable for the submission of representations/progression of this matter as they consider appropriate; and
c) to determine the application and prepare a written report for the Council recommending whether or not the application should be approved or rejected by reference to the submitted evidence.
2 written notification of this Committee’s decision is sent to Rochdale Borough Council within 7 days of the publication of the minutes of the meeting.
The meeting adjourned from 12.00 noon to 12.10pm.
Councillor S Davies arrived to the meeting during the break.