Common land saved from being concreted over to create car park in Hertfordshire village

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A piece of common land in Bovingdon has been saved from development.

Dacorum Borough Council wanted to use 140 square metres of land, on the wide roadside verge of the High Street, to create six surfaced car-parking bays.

Because this involved works on common land the council needed government consent before being decided by the Planning Inspectorate.

And pressure group The Open Spaces Society objected to the application, along with Natural England and a number of local people.

The common is a broad green verge, known as ‘amenity green’. The society said that the use of the common for car-parking was inconsistent with its enjoyment by the public as the bays would reduce the area available for public recreation, and it would have an urbanising effect.

Inspector Richard Holland rejected the application, saying that ‘parked vehicles will seriously interfere with public rights of access over the common and will also interfere with the land’s apparently established use at Easter and Christmas for religious displays and events’.

He concluded: "The proposals will unacceptably harm the interests of the neighbourhood and rights of public access over the land."

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: "We are delighted at this decision. Too often our precious commons are eaten away for car-parks and other developments. This common is known as “amenity green” for a good reason, it is a broad, green verge which can be enjoyed by the public away from traffic, and it provides an attractive setting for High Street.

"The parking bays would have destroyed the opportunity for the public to enjoy the land and sterilised this attractive common. This decision sends a strong message to local authorities that they should protect their commons not abuse them."