Campaigners lose fight to turn land into village green in Cramlington

Northumberland County Council accepted recommendations from a public inquiry against the application

Simon Hobson Pat Heard, right, from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes, with other residents
Pat Heard, right, from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes, with other residents

Campaigners trying to turn land in Northumberland into a village green have lost their bid.

Residents in Cramlington, Northumberland, had been working to get land known locally as Central Park, north of Station Road in the town, turned into a village green.

It was part of a campaign to protect the open space from major housing development proposed by joint landowners, Persimmon and Bellway Homes.

A public inquiry was held at the end of last year after the Cramlington Save Our Space (SOS) group submitted an application in 2012 for the land to be officially designated as a village green.

But this week Northumberland County Council ruled to go with the recommendations of independent planning inspector Alan Evans to reject the application.

In his report following the five-day public inquiry at Hepscott Hall in Morpeth last December, Mr Evans said: “The application fails overall and in respect of each of the constituent parts of the Application Land (including the Unkempt Land South and North) because the claimed neighbourhood does not qualify as such in law, the ‘three neighbourhood’ scenario is not supported by evidence and the Application cannot be sustained on the basis of Westwood Grange alone.”

In their application, residents said the land should be officially designated as a village green, claiming it has been widely used as a recreational resource for more than 20 years.

The Planning and Environment and Rights of Way Committee at Northumberland County Council considered the inspector’s report this week, including the submissions for and against the land being turned into a village green, but voted in favour of the inspector’s recommendations to reject the application.

Pat Heard, who lives in Falmouth Walk and is a leading member of the Cramlington SOS group, said campaigners were not prepared to give up despite losing the decision.

“I would just like to say that Cramlington SOS wish to thank the very many supporters of the village green application. Over 600 people completed evidence forms, 30 volunteered to give evidence at the public inquiry, more than 450 people also supported the process via Facebook, and almost 800 have signed our petition,” she said.

“The application unfortunately failed on one technicality which was regarding the neighbourhood.”

Pat added: “We came very close to getting the result we all hoped for, and it is very clear that the people living in the Parkside Estates, Station Road and Westwood Grange, who supported the village green application in numbers that greatly surpassed every election both national and local, have made known their views to all parties what they would wish should happen to the application land, that it be retained as open space for all to enjoy.”

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