Steyning group wins bid for village green
A “TRANQUIL” area of land in Steyning is set to become a village green, despite vociferous objections from Steyning Parish Council.
The fate of Memorial Playing Field, which has been the subject of much debate in the market town, was decided at a West Sussex County Council rights of way committee meeting on Tuesday.
Steyning Parish Council, which claims ownership of the land, opposed the plans, fearing the change would affect its pending application for a new skate park.
However, speaking at the meeting on behalf of Friends of the Memorial Playing Field, vice-chairman Paul Campbell said the parish council was “devoid of sensitivity” for objecting to the village green status.
“The only reason the parish council has opposed the application is because, amazingly, it wants to be free to destroy the area with a noisy and monstrous skate park,” he told the committee.
“They want to create an enormous, festering eyesore on a landscape which makes the area so special. This is a beautiful and tranquil area.
“There is not a single resident of Steyning who has opposed this registration, unfortunately, the only opposition has been Steyning Parish Council. So, we ask you please to make this a happy and historic day for the people of Steyning.”
Colin Wilsdon, however, described the skate park issue as “irrelevant”.
“The case has been made, regardless of the skate park, and I think we should approve it,” he said.
Bill Acraman, chairman of the committee, said: “Our job is right of way. If we choose to decree this a village green then so be it. The issue of the skate park is now a matter between the parish council and the local authority.”
Derek Whittington said: “I fully appreciate why we are here today.
“But at the same time, the speaker is obviously unaware that the young people who may wish to use the skate park have just as much right to enjoy themselves.”
He added: “I’m tempted to abstain from this vote.”
Richard Burrett said he understood why the parish council was fighting the application, but could see “no reason” not to support the registration of a village green.
The application for village green status was made by Peter Comber, chairman of the Friends of Memorial Playing Field, a group set up with the specific aim of protecting “its flora and fauna as a community resource available to all”.
It was discovered half of the Memorial Playing Field had been registered as a village green since 1974, but the Rublees Field and Nursery were acquired later and it was these areas where the new group had applied for village green status.
The committee was told a search of the Land Registry had revealed most of the land in question, the area west of the existing village green, was unregistered, apart from the Nursery area.
It was noted the parish council had acquired the Rublees Field in 1979 and the Nursery in 1987.
The committee voted to approve the village green application – five in favour to one abstention.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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