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Inquiry decides fate of ‘important’ North Somerset fields

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 November 2016

The area known as The Field and The Copse, off Chestnut Drive in Claverham.

The area known as The Field and The Copse, off Chestnut Drive in Claverham.

Archant

People battling to protect two village fields against future housing development claim the area in question is an ‘asset’ to their community.

The claims were made as an inquiry into whether fields known as The Copse and The Field, off Chestnut Drive in Claverham, should be protected under planning laws by being designated a village green began on Tuesday.

Village greens are legally protected from development if communities can prove they have been used by people for sports and pastimes without permission, force or secrecy for at least 20 years.

People living close to the Claverham site, where housing developer Gladman recently withdrew its application to build 70 homes, say the area is used regularly by dog walkers and children playing.

Dr Gary Barker, whose house overlooks the fields, gave written evidence at the inquiry. He said: “I believe many people in Claverham benefit physically and mentally from having access to this field.

“It is an asset to the village and improves the wellbeing of those who use it. This field is an important resource for the people of Claverham to have access to the outdoors and fresh air.”

Dog walker Carolyn Baker told the inquiry she had exercised dogs in the fields daily since moving to Claverham more than 30 years ago.

Mrs Baker said: “I will meet other dog walkers there and we will stop and chat, and during the summer evenings I will also usually see children playing rugby there or hide-and-seek in the long grass. They are all other people from Claverham.”

Gavin Collett represented the fields’ owners at the inquiry, and said: “(Housing) would be development away from its use of agricultural land as it stands.”

The inquiry was expected to finish yesterday (Friday), and North Somerset Council will now decide whether to award the fields village green status.

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