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Dorset common is saved from development after landmark High Court battle

Dorset common is saved from development after landmark High Court battle

 THE FIRST registered common to receive permanent protection in Dorset has beaten an attempt to have part of it developed.
 
In what could be a test-case for green spaces everywhere, Leigh Common, a nine-hectare woodland and grassland nature reserve in Colehill, near Wimborne was the subject of a case brought by the Open Spaces Society against Dorset County Council.
 
In 2016 developers Gleeson Developments Ltd applied to Dorset County Council to deregister Leigh Common either side of Leigh Road—about 1.3 hectares, or one-seventh of the entire common, said the Open Spaces Society.
 
"Lewis Wyatt (Construction) Ltd then applied in 2017 to deregister part of the same land. Both developers at that time had interests in building on land to the south of Leigh Road," said the campaign group.
 
"In January 2019 the council granted the applications relating to most of the land south of Leigh Road, conceding that it had made a mistake in 1967 in originally registering the land. It agreed with the developers that the land at that time was part of Leigh Road, and should not have been registered. It ignored the society’s objections that the council had made no mistake in 1967—it was obliged to register the land as common land, and did so."
 
It said the council’s then county surveyor objected only to the registration of a six-foot strip of verge on the north side of the road—and the strip was removed by agreement and that the evidence that the land was part of the highway was "highly questionable" and not anyway available to the council in 1967.
 
The society contested the council’s decisions and the council agreed that they should be quashed by the High Court. However, BDW Trading Ltd (part of Barratt Developments plc), which had purchased Gleeson’s interest in adjoining land, did not agree, and the society applied for a judicial review.
 
BDW maintained its objection, but, said the Open Spaces Society, High Court judge Mrs Justice Andrews granted permission for judicial review, referring to the ‘bullying tone of the correspondence from BDW’. 
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