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 Planning: Registration of Cootes Green

July 2007 

Cootes Green is a lovely area in Merryfield Drive comprising open space and a large pond. It has been used by local residents for informal recreation since the area was developed for housing in the early 1950s. The grass areas are maintained by West Sussex County Council as highway land although they do not own it. The pond itself was restored and is now maintained by a group of local residents.

In March 2005 on behalf of local residents the Horsham Society applied to WSCC to register the land as a town green under the Commons Registrations Act 1965. Registration would protect the land against development and formally recognise its use as a public facility.

Progress has been slow due in part to uncertainty over some aspects of the law, the ownership of the land, and the introduction of the Commons Act 2006. In February 2007, after further consultation with residents, we reaffirmed our application for registration under the 2005 Act.

The Commons Act 2006 provides for landowners is they wish to voluntarily register land and as this would considerably shorten the legal process WSCC has approached the owners to see if they would be prepared to do so. If not, our application will proceed under the 2005 Act.

There are many greens in the town which would benefit from the protection afforded by registration but the process is onerous and residents have to be able to prove that the land has been used for informal recreation for at least 20 years. If you know of an area near you which should be registered and are prepared to organise the collection of evidence please contact the Horsham Society and we will try to help. Further information is available from the Open Spaces Society www.oss.org.uk.

Update 20 May 2008
On Monday the WSCC Rights of Way Committee approved the registration of Cootes Green as a Town Green. This is both a terrific outcome for the local residents who have put so much work into preparing their case and an important landmark for the town as a whole. The challenge now is for others to work as hard to protect their local public greens. The Horsham Society is happy to provide advice and support.

Horsham's Town Greens