Protect 'ancient right' to village greens, peer urges
A Lib Dem peer has sought reassurance that the government would not "abolish ancient common law and statutory rights" to town and village greens.
Lord Greaves was speaking about measures in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill designed to prevent people from obstructing planning applications by seeking to designate an area of land as a village green.
He said he had no doubt such "vexatious" claims did take place but argued they were best tackled through planning regulations rather than primary legislation, during committee-stage debate on 30 January 2013.
Shadow communities and local government spokesman Lord McKenzie of Luton said Labour shared his "concern about lack of hard evidence" for vexatious claims and his desire to find a solution "that does not take away people's long-standing rights to a town or village green".
Communities and Local Government Minister Baroness Hanham told peers the current green registration process "cuts across the democratically accountable planning system" and has stood in the way of affordable housing construction in some cases.
She said people would still be able "to protect open land important to them" under the new arrangements.
The bill, which is intended to promote investment in infrastructure projects and reduce delays in the planning system, has already been passed by the House of Commons.
Under the plans, some infrastructure projects will be referred to the secretary of state, rather than local planning authorities, to be determined within a 12-month timetable.
However Labour has accused the government of weakening local councils by attempting to speed up the planning process in a bid to boost growth.
Committee stage gives peers the opportunity to carry out line-by-line scrutiny of the bill.