Pit Hill plans can now go ahead
LANDOWNERS can now go ahead with plans to develop fields on Pit Hill in Churwell after Leeds City Council rejected an application to get the land registered as a village green.
An application by local campaigners attached to Churwell Action Group was turned down by councillors on Thursday on the recommendation of planning inspector Ruth Stockley, who carried out a three-day public inquiry in May.
A lack of evidence by the campaigners to show the land had been regularly used by the local community for at least 20 years – one of the criteria of village green status – was one of the main reasons for the application’s failure.
Owners Terry and Jean Wooding and Harry and Margaret Gaythorpe have aspirations to develop the site in the future but had the group’s application succeeded, development of Pit Hill for purposes including housing would have been prevented.
Solicitor Joanne Fearnley, who represented the owners, said such village green applications were “a real headache” for landowners and developers and could tie up sites for years.
“They’re often used to try to prevent development outside the planning process rather than protect genuine legal rights,” she said.
“In this case, the council have accepted the inspector’s recommendation that the action group has produced insufficient evidence to satisfy the criteria for village green status.
“In particular, the group has failed to show that the land has been used for lawful sports and pastimes, as of right, to a significant extent and with enough continuity during the last 20 years.”
She added the the application also fell short of showing that a significant number of local people had used the site over the past two decades.
Terry Wooding said the owners were delighted the application for village green status had failed.
He said their legal representatives had advised them the campaigners would find it difficult to provide evidence to demonstrate all the criteria had been met and that view had now been fully vindicated.
A spokeswoman for the Save Pit Hill campaign said: “We were very disappointed but followed due process and gave it our best shot.
“It is a double whammy because Laneside Farm and Daisy Hill could soon be developed and if they fill in the remaining land between Churwell and the M621 that will mean there is no green space left at all.”
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