A legal error 42 years ago by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has meant that land used as village green could be built on, it has emerged.
Residents of the Lychpit area said that following the sale of the green in Broadhurst Grove in 2019 it became apparent that it had never been transferred to the council’s ownership as had been intended in 1979. This has raised fears that it could be developed.
A council spokeswoman said the land had been subject to a section 52 planning agreement - a forerunner of section 106 - and the council had maintained the green since 1979 in the mistaken belief that it owned the land.
The green had since been sold twice and the council was trying to identify the current owner and seek a solution, but had been advised that it was unlikely it could enforce such an old planning condition.
Leader Ken Rhatigan said: “The council understands the concerns of the residents and has been investigating the section 52 agreement made between the original developer and the council in 1979, relating to land at Broadhurst Grove.
“After seeking specialist legal advice, the council has been advised that the section 52 agreement requiring the transfer of this open space by the owner to the council is unlikely to be successfully enforced.”
Rhatigan said the council was exploring options including protection through the local plan update.
He said any proposals for the land would be judged against local plan policies, “which protect open spaces subject to a number of criteria”
Trees on site were covered by a preservation order and could not be removed without the council’s consent, the leader added.