Fate of village green bid rests on site visit

A BID to establish a legally recognised village green in Chickenley could yet be accepted after councillors felt unable to make a decision.

Campaign group Residents Against Greenfield Exploitation (Rage) hopes to stop Kirklees Council building homes on Chickenley Heath by winning village green status for the land.

On Thursday, the council’s licensing and safety committee had been expected to confirm an independent inspector’s recommendation to refuse the application.

But councillors insisted they needed to see the site off Chickenley Lane for themselves.

Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con, Dews South) said: “The inspector had the benefit of a site visit, the people who gave evidence to him know the land. I believe it would be beneficial to see it.”

As both the authority responsible for registering village greens and the land owner, Kirklees hired a barrister to lead an independent inquiry.

In his report, Alan Evans recommended refusal because Rage was unable to prove the necessary level of public use of the land.

A council legal officer told the committee that Mr Evans’ 63-page report held all the evidence they needed to consider.

But Coun Elaine Ward (Con, Denby Dale) said: “Although you’re saying to us we don’t need a site visit, I think we do. We’re being asked to draw a conclusion from a piece of paper and a colour photo.”

The committee voted to defer its decision until a site visit could be made.