Land sought as access to Marlborough College's proposed housing scheme is confirmed as a public open space
The legal status of open land in Marlborough was decided yesterday by Wiltshire Council's Eastern Planning Committee at a meeting in Devizes packed with fifty local residents. They accepted the Inspector's recommendation that the land could not be registered as a town or village green. Why? Because the public already had a statutory right to use it for legal sports and pastimes.
The status of the 4.5 acres of land at the northern edge of the College Fields housing estate has been unclear and unknown. The land, which is owned by Wiltshire Council, did not appear on any register of open space.
On behalf of some of the residents of the 375 houses nearby, an application to Wiltshire Council to have the land registered as a village green was made by local resident Ian Mellor: "The land has been used by local residents since the houses were built nearly 30 years ago, and the application was the only way open to us to establish some status for the land.’
The Council appointed an Inspector to hold a public Inquiry which heard evidence in Marlborough on January 9 and 10. Wiltshire Council Estates Department objected to it becoming a village green and Marlborough College, who own land next to the application site, also objected. Both objectors were represented by barristers.
The Inspector has concluded that local residents do have a statutory right to use the land for lawful sports and pastimes, which makes it a Public Open Space, and accordingly had to recommend that the committee reject the registration as a village green.
His recommendation was considered by the committee on Thursday (March 22). Councillors Fogg and Dobson, who represent Marlborough on Wiltshire Council, spoke in favour of the village green designation, but the committee finally accepted the Inspectors findings. The land is now public open space.
Commenting on the Inspector's recommendation, Mr Mellor told the Committee: "This is great news for us and we rely on you to put up signs, a few seats and bins etcetera - and treating it finally as Public Open Space and retain it for future generations."
"I would like to thank all those in the council and college who have invested time, money and effort persuading the Inspector that we do have a statutory right to use the land as well as to large numbers of the community who supported this project."
Mr Mellor said that the residents' team was seeking legal advice on the Inspector's findings and the decision. They, like the College and Wiltshire Council, have three months in which to decide whether to appeal this decision.