Therfield Heath land swap 'to correct oversight' approved

People out on Therfield Heath in the sunshine at the weekend. Picture: Clare Swarbrick

Therfield Heath - Credit: Archant

A proposal to deregister part of the common land along the A505 Baldock Road and exchange it with land west of Pen Hills has been approved. 

The application was made by Clive Hall last year – to correct "an oversight" that occurred when the A505 was widened to become a dual carriageway in 1976

Since then, the heath has been 8500m² smaller than it should have been.

The application is to deregister a section of Therfield Health land (in green) and register the blue area as common land.

The application was to deregister a section of Therfield Health land (in green) and register the blue area as common land. Picture: HCC - Credit: Archant

The discovery happened when members of the action group opposing the previous land swap application did their research at Hertfordshire Archives.

That unsuccessful application was made in 2017 by the conservators, who wanted to exchange common land near Briary Lane with woodland west of New Road. The deregistered land would have been sold off for housing to raise £1 million to be reinvested back into the site. 

While checking documents, Royston residents Karen Pearson and Don Shewan uncovered information about the compulsory purchase of a small section of the common for a new dual carriageway on the A505.

They also found maps identifying replacement land to be given in exchange. The exchange took place in 1976, but the replacement land had never been formally added to the commons register.

To address this, Clive Hall - who led the action group's successful bid to stop the Briary Lane swap, and was elected to the Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens in 2018 - made an application to Hertfordshire County Council to amend their register last year.

The council has now informed the Crow, and other parties, that the application has been granted and the Commons Registration Authority will amend the register to add the land west of Pen Hills and remove the land north of Thrift Farm. 

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Conservators chair Clare Swarbrick told the Crow: "We are delighted that this oversight has been corrected and compliment Mr Hall on his detailed and thorough application on behalf of all Therfield Heath users. Common land only accounts for three per cent of England and this small but important piece of the Heath is now properly protected for generations to come.

Don Shewan said: "We are so pleased that this section of the Common, now affectionately known by locals as 'Karen’s Corner' is open for all to use."