High Court upholds Humpty Hill's status as village green

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A decision to register an agricultural field as a village green for people to "hang out" and "chill" - and for the occasional egg rolling - has been upheld by the High Court.

The ruling is a victory for residents who have campaigned to preserve the 14-acre grass meadow at Humpty Hill, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, following a proposed 100-home development.

The county council's decision to register the land as a town or village green (TVG) came as a blow to landowners Charles Allaway and Rosemary Pollock.

The pair objected to the application for registration, as did Gladman Developments, who have an interest in the land.

Planning inspector Dr Charles Mynors held a public inquiry in March 2015 and recommended the field should receive TVG status in a report the following September.

He decided the field qualified for registration under the Commons Act 2006 because of "ample evidence" that it had been used for at least 20 years by the inhabitants of the parish of Great Faringdon for lawful sports and pastimes.

The inspector said activities included walking - with or without a dog - and children playing games like football.

Less strenuous activities included bird watching, nature study, enjoying the view, and generally "hanging out", "lounging about" or "chilling".

Seasonal activities included blackberrying, other fruit gathering, sledging and tobogganing.

The inspector concluded there had been mention of egg rolling. Although much talked about, that had probably occurred only on one or two occasions, in 1993 and 1996.

"And there may have been a battle re-enactment on one occasion".

In their High Court challenge against the inspector's decision, the objectors argued there was a lack of evidence that the field was being used by enough people to justify TVG status.

They accused the inspector of wrongly taking into account the use of perimeter paths, including a public path, as lawful sports and pastimes counting towards the establishment of a TVG. 

But Mrs Justice Patterson, sitting in London, ruled that all grounds of challenge failed and backed the county council's decision.