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Havering Council spent more than £100,000 fighting against Rainham village green legal battle

PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 March 2018

Resident's of Dovers Farm Estate, who have been trying to apply for Village Green status. Photo: Dovers Farm Estate

Resident's of Dovers Farm Estate, who have been trying to apply for Village Green status. Photo: Dovers Farm Estate

Archant

Havering Council has spent more than £108,500 to deny an open space in Rainham village green status, a Freedom of Information request had revealed.

Residents of Dovers Farm Estate, in Rainham, applied for village green status in 2016 to protect the land next to their homes, but letters were sent out confirming the decision to reject their applications in February.

They continue to challenge the council’s decision and have even engaged legal counsel to do so.

A member of the Dover’s Farm Village Green committee submitted a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) to Havering Council after it hired lawyers to deny residents’ Village Green application.

The majority of the money, £32,000 of internal fees and £21,000 of external fees, came from dealing with the Commons Registration Authority, which holds details of all common land and village greens.

More than 381 hours have been spent by staff at the council to defend the application.

Trevor Mckeever from South Hornchurch Labour Action Team told the Recorder such high spending was unacceptable.

He said: “I was absolutely shell shocked when I was made aware of the 381 person hours, and the inordinate amount of money that is in excess of £108,500.

“Havering Council has been trying to build on this land since 2015, ignoring residents’ wishes.

“We will not know the true cost as neighbourhood services failed to supply information requested in the FOI.”

Of the money spent to oppose the application, more than £16,000 was spent on hiring legal personnel and more than £31,000 was spent on submitting and defending planning applications to build on the space.

A Havering Council spokesman said: “The Council has a legal duty under the Commons Act 2006 to consider and decide applications made by community groups to list the land as village greens.

“The council must therefore bear the full costs of dealing with such applications.

“The history of the use of the land is relevant to the decision and the council, as the owner of the land in this case, provided information as part of the process.

“In accordance with good practice an independent person was appointed to consider the application, who advised that the land did not meet the statutory test for listing it as a village green.”

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