Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
When we think of assets of community value we often think about a pub at the heart of a community (whether a rural or city community) but it isn’t just pubs that can be given that designation.
A recent case, Oliver’s Battery Limited v Winchester City Council, concerned a field. A tribunal upheld a designation of the field as an asset of community value even though it acknowledged the use by the community was substantially a trespass. Locals used the field for running, walking dogs, and horse riding and part of the reason they had been able to do that was that the field had been participating in the set-aside scheme for the past few years – effectively leaving it uncultivated.
Crucially the tribunal decided that the use by the community of the field was not secondary or ancillary to its agricultural use – possibly because that agricultural use had been set aside for a few years. We cannot know whether had the use been more traditionally agricultural and cultivated for crops whether that would have ensured the local’s use could only have been secondary or ancillary.
The designation of the field as an asset of community value would not prevent the land owner from returning the field to a more agricultural use, thereby substantially restricting the local’s use of it for running, dog walking and horse riding but the landowner was left with its designation of an asset of a community value.
It is likely the application was made in an attempt by the locals to prevent the field from being developed and it may well succeed in depressing the value of the site or delaying the development. It is certainly an alert for all landowners with potential for development to think twice before allowing a field to be used for set-aside.