Castle Park Users Group Bristol

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Between 2007 and 2009 the users of Castle Park, launched a bid to protect the park from development and the Town Green application was born. Despite complete evidence in support of registration, the inspector recommended Town Green status be rejected finding the land had not been used 'as of right'. It was instead decided that the land was a park and therefore, the use was 'by right', although the Council could produce no evidence of it being registered as a park. The Council accepted this and the Town Green application was unsuccessful.

The documentation and history of the Town Green application can be found below.

What is a Town or Village Green?

A town or village green is land which is subject to the right of local people to enjoy general recreational activities on it. There is no legal requirement that it should consist mainly of grass, be situated in or in reasonable proximity to a town or village, or be suitable for use by local inhabitants for traditional recreational activities.

Legal Requirement: Section 15(2) of the Commons Act 2006 was brought into force on 6th April 2007 and contains (so far as relevant) the following provision for the registration of new greens:

"Registration of greens

(1) Any person may apply to the commons registration authority to register land as a town or village green in a case where subsection (2). applies.

(2) This subsection applies where-

(a) a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years; and

(b) they continue to do so at the time of the application.

After nearly a year of gathering evidence forms from users of Castle Park, a public enquiry was called late 2008 and an independent inspector was appointed as the Council was acting as landowner, objector and representative of the people. The applicant, a member of Castle Park Users Group, consulted a local barrister who worked pro bono putting together the legal argument and representing the applicant at the public enquiry. Many local people supporting the application gave evidence at the enquiry. Initially agreed on both sides to be scheduled for five days, the Council's presentation of evidence ran over its allocated time and as such the enquiry concluded in January 2009. The Inspector's Report was released at the end of March 2009.

Following the publication of the Inspector's Report, the Council met to decide whether to accept or reject the inspector's recommendation. Minutes of the meeting of the Public Rights of Way and Greens Committee 27 April 2009. After much debate and presentation of new evidence councillors decided to defer their decision until clarification from the independent inspector and the Council's Director of Legal Services.

New Evidence - During the course of another town green application for land in Whitchurch by The Elmtree Park Residents' Association, thousands of documents were examined including a list of appropriations and transfers from 1980. This clearly shows the land known as Castle Park was transferred and not appropriated by the Council for use 'by right' as a park. Bristol City Council document - 'Appropriation of Land 1979/80': (Transfers (Not Appropriations) - Castle Park)

The new evidence was then considered by the Inspector and a supplementary report presented. Application for registration of land known as Castle Park - Inspector's supplementary report

Minutes of the meeting of the Public Rights of Way and Greens Committee 03 August 2009

The Bristolian Article