Sutton Lawn campaigners to carry on fighting for village green status

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to preserve a Sutton beauty spot have vowed to fight on after a critical vote went against them.

Lawnside Community Association members had hoped part of Sutton Lawn would be protected from development after they applied for it to be granted village green status.

Nottinghamshire County Council, which owns that part of the land, opposed the application and last Wednesday the authority’s Rights of Way Committee voted to turn it down.

An independent report produced following a public inquiry in March said their application was ‘fatally flawed’ because the evidence did not prove a significant number of people used the land off Garden Lane, other than permitted use and use by Sutton Centre Community College.

Speaking after the meeting Stephen Gill, treasurer for the association, said: “We feel we have been shafted from start to finish during this process.

“They said we hadn’t proved that anyone used it - ridiculous.”

In his report, inspector David Manley QC said it had been a difficult one to write because no one from Nottinghamshire County Council attended the inquiry, held at Kirkby Summit Centre in March.

“The non-attendance of the objectors at the inquiry left a number of ‘loose ends’ while the applicants were not legally represented and appeared to fail to properly grasp the significance of the legal issues.

“Having carefully considered all the evidence I have concluded that the application is fatally flawed.”

Prior to the vote, there were calls to have the vote postponed, and the inspector called back to speak to council officers - but the vote went ahead.

The campaign to protect the Lawn from development stepped up a gear following news late last year that the county council, together with West Notts College, had secured planning permission to build a replacement for Sutton Centre Community College on the Lawn.

Now, it appears the plans have been called off. But Lawn campaigner and former Ashfield district councillor Tony Wallis said the campaigners would continue their fight.

He said: “The money is not there now so the plans are off. But what happens when there is money? They will be wanting to develop.”

Following the decision, supporters took to the Save Sutton Lawn Facebook group to comment on the news.

“Bad news about the village green. However, it doesn’t mean the end of the Lawn.

“They have no money to fund a new school at the moment and this gives people time to organise an alternate site,” wrote one user.

Another wrote: “Nottinghamshire County Council turns down something that will block the plans of... Nottinghamshire County Council.

“There’s democracy in action for you.”