From Good Law Project
The Supreme Court today ruled in favour of a Good Law Project-funded case which will help to protect green spaces from being sold off where there is opposition from local communities. The ruling sets a new precedent for how public green spaces are sold by local authorities in the future.
Greenfields Community Group, led by campaigner Dr Peter Day, in Shropshire, has been fighting for almost six years over the land, arguing that Shrewsbury Town Council should have consulted residents before selling off the green space.
Last June, Shrewsbury Town Council apologised "unreservedly" over the sale of part of Greenfields Recreation Ground and promised to buy the land back. The council was instructed by its lawyers not to buy it back until the Supreme Court judgment.
The campaigners will now hold the council to account over its pledge so that the local community can once again use the space for recreation.
In handing down the ruling, Lady Justice Rose said:
It is our view that [Shrewsbury TC] must put robust procedures in place to ensure that an oversight such as this is not permitted to recur. Where there should be any future sale of land [Shrewsbury TC] must be able to demonstrate that [it] has taken sufficient steps to establish the legal status of that land and act in accordance with all relevant legislation prior to sale. [Shrewsbury TC] should consider whether it has the legal power to proceed with any future disposals and, for the sake of good governance, should formally document the powers on which it has relied when making any such decisions.
Legal Manager of Good Law Project, Ian Browne, said:
We are delighted with today’s Supreme Court ruling which will set a precedent to help safeguard green spaces across the country from being sold off and the rights of communities to enjoy them for generations to come.
Shrewsbury Town Council failed to consult the local community about the selling off of the land and it has led to a protracted legal battle which should not have been necessary in the first place.
We are thrilled to have backed the tenacious efforts of Greenfields Community Group and Dr Peter Day to secure this landmark judgment, which means that Shrewsbury Town Council will now have to meet very strict criteria before they are able to sell off any green spaces in future.