High Court rejects challenge to Berkshire village green decision

Out-Law News | 28 Feb 2014 | 4:28 pm | 1 min. read

An inspector was entitled to find that land subject to an application for registration as a village green had ceased to be used "as of right", a High Court judge has found . 

Following an application in 2010 to register Thamesfield in Wraysbury, which had been used by local people for sports and community uses for more than 20 years, as a village green, an inspector found that 'private property' signs erected on the land in July 2007 had brought to end any use "as of right".

He found that the application failed because it had been made more than two years after the cessation and it was subsequently rejected by the Council.

Local campaign group Wraysbury Action Group applied for judicial review of the Council's decision, claiming that the inspector had adopted the wrong legal test when concluding that the land had become "contentious" after July 2007.

However the judge found that the inspector had followed the correct approach. He said that the inspector's "unchallenged findings of fact about the distribution of the signage and the local knowledge of that signage acquired by those who used Thamesfield could only lead to that conclusion".

The judge also rejected a claim that the inspector had been wrong to conclude that he sign was "prohibitory" in nature. However, the judge said that the words used on the sign "would only convey to an ordinary reasonable reader the message that there is no right to use the land".

The judge noted that he had reached his conclusion "with some regret" and that the campaign group "may be right to say that this is an area of the law that is in a state of flux".