Inquiry to hear village green bid for airport

PUBLISHED: 10:00 27 November 2010

View of Old Town Hall, Walliscote Road, WsM.; 14-1-09

View of Old Town Hall, Walliscote Road, WsM.; 14-1-09

Copyright Archant Ltd

A PUBLIC inquiry is set to determine the fate of a village community's bid to protect a former airfield outside Weston from planned development.

The application by Locking Parish Council for the former Weston Airfield to be marked as a village green was set to be referred to a non-statutory panel yesterday (Wed).

The council’s bid for the status was made earlier this year in response to plans for a large development featuring a business park, industrial area, hotel and pub at the prominent site.

If successful, the villagers could provide a stumbling block to developer Persimmon, which has objected strongly to the application.

The parish council collected a petition with 347 signatures, stating the land had been used for recreation, most notably dog walking, for a sufficient amount of time to warrant its preservation.

A total of 65 people who signed the campaign said they had used the land for a full 20 years.

But landowners Persimmon objected on six grounds, including unlawful trespassing and a failure to demonstrate a high number of users.

The developer won outline permission last year for the 17-hectacre business park with hotel, pub, restaurant and crèche and 12.5 hectare industrial quarters to include offices and factories.

A partial objection was also received from The Helicopter Museum, stating much of the subjected field was fenced off to the public.

North Somerset Council was set to refer the village green application for a public inquiry at a meeting yesterday.

The referral was set to be made because of the risk the council would take if it decided on the application and then lost at appeal, taking on the hearing’s cost.

In order to qualify as a village green under law it needs to be proven that it is an area where people have enjoyed legitimate pastimes for the past 20 years.

Legitimate pastimes can include cricket matches, dog-walking and blackberry-picking.

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