We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Dacorum BC Tried, and Failed, to Turn Common Land in Bovingdon into a Car Park

June 8, 2020 12:30 PM

Bovingdon High Street Common Land (Open Spaces Society)You might expect a local council to try to conserve what remains of Britain's common land. Unfortunately Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) decided last October to sacrifice a broad strip of an amenity green in Bovingdon High Street to the needs of the motor car. They were proposing to develop 140 square metres as 6 hard surfaced, car parking bays. However it turned out also to be a remnant of common land.

This meant that DBC was required, under Section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, to apply for consent from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Natural England (an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the DEFRA), a number of local people and the Open Spaces Society objected.

The grounds for objection were that the use of a common for car-parking was inconsistent with its enjoyment by the public, as the bays would reduce the area for public recreation and would have an urbanising effect.

The Inspector appointed to decide on the issue rejected the application saying that "the proposals will unacceptably harm the interests of the neighbourhood and the rights of public access over the land." He stated that, "the provision of parking bays is inconsistent with the government policy that works should take place only where they maintain or improve the common. [Moreover] any wider benefit from the parking bays is outweighed by the harm the works will cause to the appearance of the common and how it is used."

Nick Hollinghurst , County Councillor for Tring, commented,


"There may well be circumstances where, for the improvement of access to a large area of common land, and to increase the numbers of the public who can access it, some unobtrusive works such as grasscrete hard-standing might produce a net gain in benefit that would justify consent. However this is not the case in Bovingdon High Street and the net effect would only be to increase vehicular clutter, local traffic and air pollution.


Commons, village greens, public open spaces and public footpaths are dwindling resources, ever vulnerable to exploitation by developers and other vested interest. We must be ever vigilant to protect and conserve these priceless social assets. Without them, we would be confined to walking along public roads, without rights to roam and enjoy the natural world, or else dependendent on landowners to grant access - and maybe at a price. It would in some ways be like a permanent version of lockdown."

You might expect a local council to try to conserve what remains of Britain's common land. Unfortunately Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) decided last October to sacrifice a broad strip of an amenity green in Bovingdon High Street to the needs of the motor car. They were proposing to develop 140 square metres as 6 hard surfaced, car parking bays. However it turned out also to be a remnant of common land.

This meant that DBC was required, under Section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, to apply for consent from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Natural England (an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the DEFRA), a number of local people and the Open Spaces Society objected.

The grounds for objection were that the use of a common for car-parking was inconsistent with its enjoyment by the public, as the bays would reduce the area for public recreation and would have an urbanising effect.

The Inspector appointed to decide on the issue rejected the application saying that "the proposals will unacceptably harm the interests of the neighbourhood and the rights of public access over the land." He stated that, "the provision of parking bays is inconsistent with the government policy that works should take place only where they maintain or improve the common. [Moreover] any wider benefit from the parking bays is outeighed by the harm the works will cause to the appearance of the common and how it is used."

Nick Hollinghurst , County Councillor for Tring, commented,


"There may well be circumstances where, for the improvement of access to a large area of common land, and to increase the numbers of the public who can access it, some unobtrusive works such as grasscrete hard-standing might produce a net gain in benefit that would justify consent. However this is not the case in Bovingdon High Street and the net effect would only be to increase vehicular clutter, local traffic and air pollution.

Commons, village greens, public open spaces and public footpaths are dwindling resources, ever vulnerable to exploitation by developers and other vested interests. We must always stay vigilant to protect and conserve these priceless social assets. Without them, we would be confined to walking along public roads, without rights to roam and enjoy the natural world, or else dependent on landowners to grant access - and maybe at a price. It would in some ways be like a permanent version of lockdown."

Picture from Open Spaces Society.