Report on KCC Village Green Hearing

The committee carried out a site visit for the benefit of those members who had not visited before. The meeting to discuss whether the application was to be granted or refused was held at the Guildhall. The officer gave an overview of the history, the Inspectors report, the response from the applicant and the response of the Inspector.
There was then a submission by the applicant’s solicitor, who basically implied that the Inspector did not look at the evidence correctly and that there had been omissions. She criticised the Inspector for not replying to the applicant’s response. She asked KCC Members to not approve the inspector’s report or the listen to the recommendations of the officers. CCC’s Janet Taylor told members that the areas which are not marked out as pitches were not defined at the public inquiry as the pitches are moved regularly. Therefore it would be very difficult to allow an application for Village Green on just some of the area. The point raised on locality was also not satisfied; therefore she said, the Inspectors recommendation should stand.
Several Members spoke, one stating that he was impressed by the solicitor’s comments that opinion of counsel was just her opinion. As specialist counsel opinion had been sought by KCC and then they had to rely on that opinion. He also stated that he was not convinced by the applicants request to register part of the land. There appeared to be a lot of ‘window dressing’ to support this case.
Another member stated that many years ago he used to play football on the pitches in Cherry Orchard and that they had always needed the permission of CCC to play and on several occasion matches had been cancelled by CCC due to pitch conditions. The pitches in those days were closer to the bungalows and balls regularly went into the gardens during matches. Having gone to counsel he too was surprised at the suggestion that they should ignore the recommendation.
Another member stated that they had gone through a Public Inquiry and locality was not proven and having had a qualified person look at the issues, as members they must take the advice of learned people.
The chair stated that he had allowed the applicants solicitor to make a late submission and he had found parts offensive and that members had to be guided by their legal representatives.
A vote was taken and the application was refused.