In the House of Commons on 25 March 2008, Tom Levitt MP gave an excellent speech that helped to bring the hidden great village green swindle out into the light.

Just one of his several examples of the scam is described in the following Hansard extract:

‘Two weeks ago, two sisters called Dorothy and Margaret came to see me. They own a very small farm on the outskirts of Buxton. The farm includes a field that is bounded on one side by a wooded hillside owned by the Civic Association, on another side by private housing and on a third by a school playing field. Buxton community school is a sports specialist school and it is therefore not surprising that High Peak borough council is considering using this site, adjacent to the school land, to relocate its swimming pool and develop a leisure centre.

‘Development can be sniffed in the air, so what happens? Someone who may have once flown a kite on this field or walked their dog there—albeit while trespassing—puts in a town green application to ‘protect’ the land from yet another socially valuable development.

‘Whatever the merits of the case, we know that it will be years before this application is considered. Meanwhile, the sisters have to live with uncertainty, and the council has to look for another piece of land that is potentially more viable to develop.

‘Dorothy and Margaret were close to tears in my office. They are ladies of mature years and the field represents their retirement fund. A successful town green application would make the land next to worthless, effectively leaving them destitute and unable to plan for their retirement.’

Case Study:

Two sisters and their property

View of Buxton in Derbyshire

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