Campaign to save playing fields from housing scheme goes to Supreme Court

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CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop houses being built on playing fields in Whitby are taking their fight to the Supreme Court in a case which has implications for others seeking ‘village green’ protected status.

The application to register Helredale playing fields as a village green will be heard in the Supreme Court on April 2.

Helredale Neighbourhood Council (HNC) is fighting to save the fields from a housing development which has planning permission.

Christine Barkas, a member of the HNC, applied to register the four-acre site on the grounds that it had been used for informal recreation by local people ‘as of right’ - without being challenged and without permission — essential criteria for registering land as a green. Registration would protect it from development.

The application was rejected by the Court of Appeal in 2012, having previously been rejected by North Yorkshire County Council.

Viv Wright, secretary of HNC, said: “The outcome of this case is vital not only for our much-loved green space, but also because it raises an important area of law. The result is likely to have a significant impact on future village green applications.”

Nicola Hodgson, of the Open Spaces Society, said: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to register land as a green, since the government changed the law preventing applications on land earmarked for development. So it is important to establish exactly what are the criteria which enable land to be registered. Helredale is one in a succession of cases through the courts which will clarify the law on greens. It will determine whether open spaces which are held by local authorities under the Housing Acts can be registered as greens.”