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Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 5369

Courage Playing Fields in Shenfield

Request

There is at present a Planning Application (12/01223/FUL) in place from Shenfield Cricket Club relating to the siting of their cricket nets.

The proposed arrangement encroaches well into the area known as the 'Wild Flower Meadow' adjoining the cricket ground.

The meadow was farmland until the early 1990s, when it was passed to Brentwood Council by the Courage family.

In order to make certain of the legitimacy or otherwise of the use of this meadow for anything other than recreational, non ball-playing purposes, it is necessary to determine the terms and conditions laid
down at the time of the transfer.

I should be grateful therefore if you would provide me with a copy of these details which one would imagine would fall under current 'Freedom of Information' provisions.



Response

I understand that you met with Laurie Gibbins earlier today at the Council offices when she discussed with you your enquiry in some depth.
The Council is the freeholder of the site known as “The Courage Playing Fields”, not “Wild Flower Meadow” as described by you in your e-mail. Laure Gibbins suggested you attend the Council offices to ensure that you were both not talking at crossed purposes regarding the location of the land in question. The Courage Playing Fields incorporates the Shenfield Cricket Club, which was gifted to the Council by two deeds of gift: one dated the 27 February 1950 and the other dated the 5 October 1951, the Council holding and administering the land for the purposes of public open space, recreation ground and playing fields, in accordance with the covenants contained within these deeds. The Council held a council meeting on 1 March 1948 resolving to accept these gifts for these purposes.

In the deed of gift dated 27 February 1950, the Council entered into a covenant with the Donors of the land that it will allow Shenfield Cricket Club to have use of the cricket ground situate upon the conveyed property for as long as the Club remains in existence and upon such reasonable terms as have been or may be agreed from time to time between the Council and the Cricket Club. I confirm that the title to this land does not prohibit ball playing, as suggested by your e-mail. On the contrary, the use of the land is to be utilised for public open space, recreation ground and playing fields.

I note that you contended that part of the land to the Council was gifted to it in the 1990s. I confirm that this is incorrect. As previously confirmed by Laurie Gibbins the land was gifted to the Council in 1950/1951. Laurie Gibbins discussed with you that part of the land gifted to the Council was subject to a previous tenancy agreement between the Donors and a third party. The Council has no copy of the tenancy agreement to confirm the extent of the area of the Courage Playing Fields which was subject to this tenancy.
In terms of the planning application, the Local Planning Authority does not carry out checks on third party rights when considering a planning application. The seeking of planning permission does not absolve the applicant from obtaining any other necessary third party consents or entering into legal agreements relating to the land which is subject to a planning application. Such third party rights may involve issues between the land owner and the applicant, but these issues are separate to planning considerations and as such they would be a civil matter between the land owner and the applicant.

I understand that Laurie Gibbins showed you the deeds of gift and office copy filed plan of the land relating to your enquiry, which appeared to answer your enquiries. In relation to your earlier written request for copy documentation requested under the FOIA, relating to the covenants affecting this land, this Authority has the right to refuse a request for information, if an exemption applies. The Authority considers that an absolute exemption applies to your request under Section 21 of the FOIA, which states that “information requested may be exempt if it reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means”. The Council’s registered title number is EX762070. As the information you requested is available from the HM Land Registry, I am of the opinion that this absolute exemption applies to your request for this information. You can contact the Land Registry, Peterborough Office at Touthill Close, City Road, Peterborough PE11XN; Tel: 03000063143 or via
e-mail:customersupport@landregistry.gsi.gov.uk for a copy of title documents you may require.