OOTS: Don't Fence Me In

We arrived home from holidays to find the above pictured scene: one of the open spaces on our estate was fenced off right at the start of the school holidays. Needless to say it's the open space closest to the densest of housing on our estate and is the only one on their side of the main road.

Our local Residents' Association have been on the case and established that Crest (who originally bought the land making up the estate, then sold it off to various developers) still own this piece of land: it's enough to build another house or two.

Further delving by them elicited the following information from Crest via one of our local councillors (I've emboldened some of the wording):

I have spoken to Andrew Cox (Land and Property Dept) at Crest Nicholson at Bristol.

He informs me that shareholders have asked that all the odd pieces of land owned by Crest Nicholson are fenced off and put into a portfolio. What is to happen to these areas has not yet been decided. He did state that say that at some stage he will be talking to the relevant planning depts.

I told him that the residents were upset as the children use the area for football and cricket and he apologised for the timing of the work, but it had been agreed that if someone was injured on these pieces of land that they (Crest Nicholson) could be held responsible.

Amazing how our local children have managed to play on this land without overly harming themselves for over 5 years isn't it? So where are they playing now? In the road next to it - much more dangerous surely?

This is the remnant of land that was originally earmarked for a primary school, which was subsequently developed for housing instead. It appears that Wiltshire Council designated this remnant 'for community use' in 2003 when they rejected a planning application. Bearing in mind the land's original intention, its use as an open space seems much more in keeping and morally right.

I'd love to know who's been cutting the grass over the past few years and who will be going through the padlocked gate to do so in the future. Crest or our local council? And if it's the latter, I'd also like to know what bearing this might have on ownership/usage (ideas/advice anyone?).

Thank goodness we now have a Residents' Association willing to get to the bottom of this mystery. It might just be an ordinary little patch of grass, but it's valued greatly by our residents nevertheless.


  1. Oh how upsetting. I hope it's restored for the use of the community soon and you don't lose it to more building - and what a waste to have it fenced off while they wrangle over its future. More bureacracy gone mad.

  2. Outrageous. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type. Good luck with putting pressure on Crest to do something about this.

  3. so *now* the green is unsafe for children to play on? hmph....more like crest is hoping to sell off the odd land parcels & worries that skuff marks on the grass will hurt a potential sale! jerks

  4. It's worth your residents association to look into how long the land has been used or accessed 'publically. If it's been a green space for 20 years, you could try applying for the land to have 'town green' status, which means it cannot be built on. Alternatively, if the land has been designated for community use by the council in 2003, then it should have a strong case for arguing it remain so. Sounds like a local campaign needs to get started - maybe start off by occupying the space by holding a community picnic? Good luck with reclaiming the space for the community.

  5. Obviously the children are not spending enough time in front of the TV, on a computer or their mobile phones. Crest are obviously worried that if they become fit and healthy by playing outside, they will not be such a drain on our NHS in later years.
    Sound like a job for a pair of bolt cutters to me!

  6. Good work on highlighting this issue!

  7. Sadly a familiar sounding story ~ surely it is just as potentially dangerous for children not to play. Hope that the Residents Association can work towards a positive outcome.

  8. hillwards - I hope we can still get community used for this land. It's such a shame that its fenced off whilst its fate is decided though.

    Lu - the Residents' Association are meeting soon, so there should be some more news to come

    Petoskystone - the council have just been round mowing the rest of the estate so now the fenced in area has very different looking grass to that surrounding it. I wonder how that might affect potential sales!

    Gwenfar - interesting. Our estate is less 20 years old, so I don't think 'town green' status is an option. However you're right that its legal status should be looked into bearing in mind how its been used over 10+ yrs. BTW its already been used for things like community picnics e.g. royal wedding street party :)

    Dobby - it was good to see them playing

    Robert and Anna - thanks


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