Treasured public spaces across the UK are being sold off and lost to private interests at an alarming rate.
First published: May 2022.
Now one community in Shropshire is going all the way to the Supreme Court to fight this – and to defend all of our public interest in our beloved green spaces.
Greenfields Recreation Ground, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, has been a resource to local families since 1926; generations of families have played in it. Throughout that time, the land has been held and managed as recreational land by the council on behalf of the community. But in 2017 it was sold off to a developer – for high-end housing. The community was not consulted and the sale was not advertised, despite there being a legal requirement to do so.
This is not an isolated example. Up and down the country we are seeing our public spaces disappear into private hands.
Locality, a campaign group fighting to save public spaces, estimates that nearly half of all public land in Britain has been sold off since the 1970s – and the capture for private profit of public goods shows no signs of slowing. Nearly 4,000 public spaces and buildings are being sold off every year in England alone.
The pandemic reminded us how important our public spaces are. They are where we come together, exercise, meet our neighbours, make new friends, walk our dogs – and put down roots in our communities.
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The Supreme Court only takes appeals which raise points of ‘general public importance’. And you can read the legal grounds of the Greenfields Community’s appeal here. We want public land to be held for the public – and not to be sold out from under them without consultation.
That’s why we’re raising money: to protect the Greenfields site, and help the community that uses it, and so many others like it, protect their public spaces.
Funds will be used for the costs of Greenfields’ Supreme Court hearing – and to support more work by Good Law Project to protect community spaces from private development. If you are in a position to do so, you can donate to the legal action here.
(Leigh Day are acting as solicitors for Peter Day, who is the Appellant in this case, and represents the interests of the Shropshire Greenfields Community Group.)
— AUTHORS —
- Text: This piece was originally published in Good Law Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 17 May 2022, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Google Maps. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)