landmark legal win?

THE fight to protect Helredale playing fields in Whitby from being built on, marches on in what could prove to be a landmark legal victory.

Helredale Neighbourhood Council (HNC) has been fighting for four years to have the playing fields designated as a village green following the revelation of plans to build 150 properties for social housing.

A public enquiry last year ruled that the area shouldn’t be classed as a village green but HNC, made up of local residents, appealed against the planning inspector’s decision.

They found out last week that a team of expert solicitors and barristers have decided they have a case which will be taken to a judicial review and the outcome will be used as a case study for similar legal disputes in the future.

Viv Wright, chair of HNC, said: “They have taken a long time so we had no idea the decision was coming – it was just nice when it came.

“I feel justified in taking it that far. If it came back there was not a case we would have lost time and money.

“It is a big step for a small local group, particularly when you have no knowledge of ever having done anything like that in your life before.”

HNC expects the hearing will be in Leeds over one-and-a-half days but no date has yet been set.

The group is querying the outcome of last year’s public inquiry as to whether Helredale playing fields could be classed as a village green on a point of law concerning land within housing estates which dates back to the 1930s.

Mrs Wright added: “Our appeal was submitted in January to the High Court for another judge to look at.

“They have decided there is obviously some difference of opinion that has to be resolved by law. That was our feeling when we got the result it was not to be a village green.

“Our barrister says the case will be quite crucial in future applications by people in similar situations to ours where it is council owned property in an estate.”