A Message From the Chairman of the Village Green Committee
The village green public inquiry took place at Congleton Town Hall over the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th of May. We had attempted to have the inquiry adjourned due to late notice of the inquiry venue (we were informed of the venue only a few days before the date the inquiry was due to start) and also due to late service of additional evidence by the two objectors, Cheshire East Highways and Richborough Estates. The application to adjourn was refused.
All witnesses gave exceptionally detailed and helpful evidence and I am sure the parish will be very grateful for their efforts. Unfortunately, as less than a third of the supporting witnesses had attended to give evidence it became clear that there would not be sufficient evidence to prove the application, particularly as key witnesses in respect of the highway issue declined to attend.
Over the course of the first two days we set out our case as robustly as possible and having closed our case on the third day we made a decision to withdraw from the inquiry. The inspector has now published his report, a copy of which is attached to this email. It is noted that the report is not an entirely accurate representation of what happened during the enquiry but there is little point in taking issue with those inaccuracies at this stage.
Sadly, the inspector has recommended refusal of the application, which means the council’s public rights of way committee will almost certainly decline to register the application land as a village green. This is a disappointing outcome but we can draw some considerable satisfaction from knowing that our efforts kept a small part of Somerford green for 4 years longer than otherwise might have been the case. Thank you to all of those who supported the application.