Common land claim
The new Supreme Court of the UK – the highest appeal court in the country – will on Monday morning start to hear the final appeal by local residents against the refusal of their council to register Coatham Common in Redcar as common land.
The hugely controversial local dispute has been rumbling on since 2006 and intensified after Redcar and Cleveland Council gave planning permission for a £55m housing-led development by Persimmon Homes just before the local elections in April 2007.
This hearing, scheduled for three days and over which Lord Hope (the Deputy President of the Supreme Court) will preside, will make the final decision as to whether Redcar and Cleveland Council acted unlawfully in refusing to register the land as a town or village green, which would have protected it from development forever.
Following that refusal in October 2007, Kevin Lewis, a local resident and supporter of the Friends of Coatham Common, unsuccessfully brought a judicial review in the High Court, and it is the final appeal from that decision which is to be heard on Monday.
Charles Davis, a former Redcar and Cleveland councillor and spokesman for the Friends of Coatham Common campaign group, said: “We are delighted that the new Supreme Court has agreed to hear this appeal. We have been battling now for several years to keep this green space for future generations and so this is a hugely important case for us.”
Andrew Lockley, Partner and Head of Public Law at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, added: “While this hearing should settle the Coatham Common dispute once and for all, the decision of the judges will be of wider application. Local councils will know how to deal with applications to register common land in cases where, as here, local residents use the land for games and relaxation while others engage in other activities.”