Buckinghamshire Council has refused to grant a village green area protection from development.

The wait for the residents of Lye Green near Chesham is over after Buckinghamshire Council announced its decision in a battle to grant a parcel of land the ‘Village Green’ status.

The campaign group Brown Not Green and the residents have been pushing for the land, which sits on the Green Belt, to be protected from future development.

They jumped to action after plans to turn the land into 900 new homes emerged in 2015, followed by two village green applications by the campaigners in 2020.

In March, Buckinghamshire Council held a major public inquiry, which heard evidence from residents and the landowners over several days on whether to grant the Village Green status, an official designation that warrants legal protection from any interruption to its recreational use. 

Hundreds of residents provided evidence to show the parcel of land had been habitually used for peaceful recreation, including dog walking, jogging, walking with friends and family and children playing.

After the inquiry, the campaigners expected the inspector’s report and decision to take some months, but they were left “astonished” as they had to wait until September for the decision to be revealed, Brown Not Green director Phillip Plato told the Free Press earlier.

Buckinghamshire Council announced on September 18 it has refused the Village Green designation based on the inspector’s recommendations.

This was because “there is insufficient evidence to support the registration of the land and therefore rejects application,” the Council said.

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In a detailed 100 page report dated July 3, the inspector appointed by Buckinghamshire Council considered evidence from the applicant Brown Not Green, members of the public and from the owners of the land Geltex Properties Ltd and W.J. and M.Mash Ltd, who objected the Village Green status.

Following the decision, Phillip Plato said “there has been an outpouring of reaction from the BNG members and supporters who feel outraged at this decision.”

He said: “Several people are surprised at the decision given the weight of evidence presented by BNG, many of whom express concern about the lack of transparency in the decision process.

“Specifically, many have raised the question as to why bother appointing an Inspector to conduct a public inquiry if the Council were always intending to revise the draft Inspector report as they have done over the last three months since the Council received the Inspectors first draft?”

Brown Not Green board was now considering “the merits and practicalities for any further action or potential challenge to the Council’s decision,” he added.