COMMUNITIES hoping to have open spaces declared village greens in a bid to stave off unwanted development have been hit hard by new Government legislation.

At the end of January parliamentary committees were asked to agree a set of measures that will make it even harder for public areas to be classified as village greens.

Previously communities could apply for the special status if they could prove the land had been used by locals for 20 years without being stopped or having to ask permission. Once registered as a village green, the land is protected from development.

Last April the Government banned the registration of greens in England on land where a ‘trigger event’ had occurred such as a planning application being made on the site or on land identified for potential development. These new measures prevented many spaces becoming greens.

Now the Government wants to extend that list of trigger events excluding applications to include land which is subject to a draft local development order, a draft neighbourhood development order or where planning permission has been requested.

The Open Spaces Society is leading a campaign to head off this most recent threat.

Nicola Hodgson of the OSS said the Government’s obsession with development was affecting the public’s enjoyment of open spaces.

“We deplore the governments renewed attack on our green spaces,” she said.

“The current trigger events have only been in place for nine months which is not long enough to assess the effect they are having, both on development and on local people.

“It is premature to bring in new measures with no evidence of the need to do so.”

In 2008 residents in Fairford applied for the land around Lake 104, close to Lechlade, to become a village green but the application was later refused at an inquiry the following year.

“Making it even harder to apply is completely unnecessary because it was practically impossible to before,” said Mark Wardle who was involved in the application.

“This just removes another obstacle for developers. Applying is such a long and very time consuming process. It’s expensive and requires a large amount of effort, evidence and commitment and this was before the new changes were made.”