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Final day of inquiry into village green status for Bunyards Farm, near Maidstone

Campaigners fighting to save 37 acres of green space from being built on have made their final, closing arguments.

They are seeking protected village green status for Bunyards Farm, near Maidstone, where there are plans to build more than 400 houses.

Village Green supporters at Bunyards Farm, Allington
Village Green supporters at Bunyards Farm, Allington

Activists say the land has been in common use by dog walkers, kite flyers and berry pickers for two decades - the time required for village green status under the Commons Act 2006.

But the claim is being contested by the landowner, Andrew Cheale Will Trust, and developer BDW Trading Ltd.

A King’s Counsel, acting for the landowner, told the inquiry last month the land was last used “intensively” in 1998 but has since been used for other activities such as horse grazing and hay-making.

The campaigners' case was put together by members of Medway Ecological Riverine Link (MERLin) and volunteers.

On Monday the inspector heard from the applicants and objectors to each give their interpretation of the facts presented over four days at County Hall in March.

The applicants, led by Duncan Edwards and supported by Cllr Chris Passmore and the residents of Allington, have been working on this campaign for over three years.

Part of the proposed Village Green at Bunyards Farm
Part of the proposed Village Green at Bunyards Farm

Sixteen local residents gave evidence to the inquiry to back up the case for village green status.

Mr Edwards said: “This is an example of the community coming together and doing something to contribute to decisions that impact their local area.

“We can't say whether the application itself will be successful, but we can say that our action has given us a credible chance and that we have learned an enormous amount about how to organise ourselves and take genuine, positive and realistic action to help influence an important local decision about the status of this piece of land.”

Cllr Passmore added: “The inspector will now write her report and we anticipate getting the result during the summer as to whether this part of west Maidstone will remain a green space thanks to the efforts of the local community.”

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