Campaign for Hitchin village green status

CAMPAIGNERS who want to preserve a Hitchin playing field for community use have had an application to turn it into a village green move forward, two years after the idea was launched.

County Councillor Derrick Ashley submitted an original application in 2009 to officially recognise Benslow Field, adjacent to the Girls’ School which owns the land, as a village green.

That application has now been officially recognised by Herts County Council (HCC), which has published statutory notices on site as part of its consultation period.

Cllr Ashley told The Comet: “Since the early 70s, local communities have used the field as a recreational space. When a proposition was put forward to release part of it for building on, there was concern, so I decided the best thing would be to get an application in for a village green.

“If it was to become a village green, then it would protect the land and stop it from being used for any development. [It] wouldn’t alter the status of ownership - it would still belong to the school. They can still use it for anything they want, when they want.

“The county council are acting on this separately. This is a local issue which I’m pursuing as a local member.”

If there are no objections to the application, then the land will be granted the status. But if objections are received, then the matter will go to an independent planning inspector, who would make the ultimate decision.

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Cllr Ashley, who originally collected nearly 100 pieces of evidence which supported the green was used by community, is urging anyone with further examples to get in contact.

He added: “I’m very grateful for all those local residents who submitted evidence to support the application in 2009.

“This field has been used by successive generations since the early 70s for a wide variety of leisure and community uses.

“At this stage, I would welcome further evidence of how and when local residents have used the field during the past 40 years.”

Anyone who wants to add further evidence can contact Cllr Ashley by emailing him at