Kent Law Clinic secures 'village green' status for residents
Kent Law Clinic, the University’s pro-bono legal service, has helped residents in Westgate-on-Sea with their bid to secure village green (TVG) status.
Applying for TVG because they feared they would be prevented from using a field in the heart of their community, the residents called on Kent Law Clinic to represent them at a Public Inquiry. The owners of the field did not accept that the residents were entitled to use it, and also claimed the residents did not constitute a ‘neighbourhood’ - a requirement for village green status.
Kent law students Alex Courtnage, Oliver Hartland and Hannah Lennox appeared alongside Kent Law Clinic solicitor Elaine Sherratt, as advocates for the residents at a five-day Public Inquiry. They argued that the residents had continuously used the field ‘as of right’ for 20 years for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’, as required by section 15 of the Commons Act 2006.
The students prepared for the case by taking and submitting 32 witness statements from residents, and then by calling 17 witnesses in person at the Inquiry, including a distinguished local historian. In support of their argument, the students presented the residents’ evidence of the wide variety of activities taking place on the field, including dog walking, kite flying, football, camping, blackberry picking, bike riding, bird watching, and picnicking.
The Inquiry Inspector accepted the residents’ evidence about their sports and pastimes, found that there was a neighbourhood called ‘the Linksfield Estate’, and recommended that the field be registered as a village green by Kent County Council.
UPDATE: ON 3rd June 2014 KENT COUNTY COUNCIL ACCEPTED THE INSPECTOR'S RECOMMENDATION, AND DECIDED TO REGISTER THE FIELD AS A VILLAGE GREEN.
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