Harpenden Town Green bid rejected

Roman snails at Westfield allotments

Roman snails at Westfield allotments - Credit: Archant

A BID to change the status of a playing field in Harpenden to a town green has been scuppered, to the disappointment of a local campaigner who has spent two years fighting for its protection.

Carol Hedges applied to Herts county council (HCC) in 2010 to have Westfield playing field registered as a town green.

The rectangular shaped 1.15 hectare green space is bordered by residential properties and former allotment land, home to protected Roman snails.

The field was previously owned by St Albans district council (SADC) which transferred ownership to Harpenden town council (HTC) in April 2012.

Earlier this year HTC outraged residents when it applied to build an accessway over the field’s playground, and dump excavated soil on the neighbouring former allotment site, where the protected snails have been found.

After a storm of protest, it later withdrew the application.

Carol’s application for the playing field to be granted town green status was opposed by both the district and town councils.

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And her bid was recently turned down by the county council’s development control committee. Committee chairman Cllr Ian Reay said it was rejected following legal advice.

After a public inquiry held in Harpenden late last year independent inspector Alexander Booth, a barrister, recommended that the application be denied.

In his report to HCC, he concluded that the land had been used “by right” for lawful sports and pastimes and there was no justification to register it as a town green.

After HCC’s decision Carol said: “I think it is a great pity that the local community has once again had its wishes ignored by councillors who do not seem willing to take on board their concerns.”

She applied for the playing field to be designated a town green as, “we felt the whole area, including the former allotment site, was under threat and wanted to preserve it, for future generations”.

Harpenden Town Mayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer described the decision as “very heartening”.

She said that with the “uncertainty” about the future status of the playing field removed, the council would now consult with residents about improving facilities.