Discussion Forum

Trouble At Delph:
Encroachments On the Village Green?

Posted by Kevin Crum,
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Encroachments by allotment gardens threaten historic village green!

The only village green of its kind in Calderdale and, I am pretty sure the first one in Britain is under threat from encroaching allotment gardens and a lack of understanding of the statutes that protect this valuable important community resource.

According to the Open Space Society there are now similar Village Greens well into 4 figures registered in Britain and ours is the first.

Allow me to introduce you to The Delph Village Green Register Unit No. Vg1. If you haven't already met. Born at Steepfield, Windsor Road, Hebden Bridge on 8th of June 1992, VG1 was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people to safegaurd and protect a small piece of open land for the unencumbered and free-ranging access to any one to use. As long as that use didn't prevent its use by anyone else and does not involve the changing of the boundaries, erection of fences, buildings or workings of any kind. Anything in short that would stake a claim contrary to its commonality and prevent others from ranging freely upon it would be a violation of its protected status. Or words to that effect.

It has happened before, It may happen again and It has happened now. The Village Green VG1 is under threat again.

I was alerted to this situation when inspecting the site of a building which has popped up in an allotment overlooking VG1 which is the subject of retrospective planning application 03/00288/FUL. When deciding whether to support or oppose the application. I noticed that the boundaries looked differant then represented in the maps and documents registered as its constituant size and shape.

I got a copy of the map as it is registered and available for inspection at Calderdale Archives, Crossley House, Halifax. and revisited the site. Lo and behold a sizeable chunk of VG1 has been absorbed by individuals for their own use and exclusive of everyone else who has the right of commonality upon it.

The most obvious of these included the allotment the building waiting planning consent is situated in, which has annexed a wedge by moving a fence. And the allotment garden next to it, the one with a telephone pole in the inside top corner. The entire volume of this garden has been taken from VG1 by the act of encroachment. This can clearly be seen from an inspection of the map and the site of VG1. Unless the geography has altered since my last visit. I hope so. It would be so nice to wander up and see that VG1 has been restored voluntarily.

Well that should be enough to get the discussion going. If you feel you already know enough about this and want to work with others to restore and maintain the rights of VG1. Contact: Village Green by emailing steepfield@hotmail.com

Posted by Kevin Crum,
Thursday, May 1, 2003

So who is responsible for protecting VG1? All of us, I would have thought and particularly those who find themselves in a situation of being in encroachment on VG1. In the laws and statutes pertaining to VG1 to the best of my understanding it is the owners of the land who have the statutory duty to protect and enforce in respect of VG1. So who are the owners? It is my belief that the Steepfield was bought some years ago by public donation through the auspices of the 'Steepfield Association' with the named owners on the Land Registry Document acting as 'Trustees'. So that VG1 and the Steepfield allotment gardens would both be protected as an important traditional community resource and have an effective organisation for their care, protection and administration.

I attended a hastily convened ad hoc meeting on Sun 16 March. Two of the 'Trustees' were present and 3 others including myself. Since that date the 'Trustees' have been aware of my discoveries regarding the status of VG1 and rights and responsibilities.

In respect of the boundaries of VG1, I quote information from the Open Spaces Society:
"I have said that the boundaries cannot be changed as under the statute what is on the register is deemed to be conclusive only an act of Parliament could change that." (N. Hodgson OSS)

I feel that the best outcome of this issue would be for anyone who thinks that they have made an encroachment deliberately or accidentally or acquired one acquaints themselves with the information as to what actually constitutes the boundaries of VG1 and what actually qualifies as an encroachment upon it and removes voluntarily any encroachments on VG1.

If this is not viable it is clearly the responsibility of the owners to take action, to the best of my knowledge. Anyone who has information that contradicts these opinions, I would certainly like to see it.

Anyone who wishes to see the definitive documents pertaining to VG1 can do so at Crossley House, Crossley Street, Halifax.

Posted by Kevin Crum,
Saturday, May 3, 2003

Here is the map sent to me by Calderdale when I wrote requesting a copy of the map of VG1 as registered at Crossly House. They represent that this is the map detailing the extent of VG1. It is all of the area marked in Green.

VG1  map

Posted by Mic Smith,
Thursday, May 8, 2003


Everything I have been told and or shown to date suggests an absolute right and or indeed duty to 'call into question' any encroachment on the mapped village green, whether caused by an 'oversight', or blatent ignorance and disregaard of legislation over such matters.

In seeking advice I have consulted a regional director of English Heritage and a County Archeologist, both regularly involved in matters of designation and ownership recognised by the Secretary of State. The comment was as above, that a challenge to the boundaries should at the very least be called into question. To avoid confusion I should state that I am not a resident of Hebden Bridge, my concerns are over any local or regional precedents being established on Village Greens, which I suspect a few more people need to read up on.