Campaigners apply to make Castle Mound a town green to preserve access
Campaigners have lodged an application with the County Council to preserve the Shire Hall monument site as a town green.
If the Castle Mound and grassed forecourt area at Shire Hall are declared a town green it will become a criminal offence “to undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place for exercise and recreation or to cause any damage to the green.”
County Councillors Claire Richards and Jocelynne Scutt, both founding members of the Friends of Castle Mound, lodged the application this week together with Katie Thornburrow, the current Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Planning and Open Spaces.
Cllr Scutt said: “We have to protect the community’s right of access in perpetuity.
Since I went up to Girton College as a student in the 1970s, I have been aware of the historical importance of the heritage-listed mound, the Civil War works and the prison foundations underneath Shire Hall’s grassed forecourt.
“Now, living almost next door, I regularly see children and young people playing on the grass, residents and tourists climbing Castle Mound and dozens of churchgoers, shoppers, students, and visitors passing through its grounds. The space is rarely empty during the day, at weekends – or on long summer evenings. Even in the early morning people can be seen out there walking their dogs.
“If the council is serious about preserving public access to this space then the obvious answer is to declare it a town green, with all the rights that brings.”
The group say they have taken this step to protect it as a site of national historical significance and an important green space for Cambridge city and the wider county.
Isabel Lambourne, Secretary of the Friends of Castle Mound, said: “It would mean so much to people in the area if we can manage to keep the public access. It has such potential as a council-run public asset. Leasing the land to a private developer will only make the community poorer, and we will carry on fighting to stop that happening.”
Once a green is registered:
- It is a criminal offence to undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place for exercise and recreation or to cause any damage to the green.
- It is an offence to drive over a registered town or village green without lawful authority and in certain other circumstances.
- It is deemed to be a public nuisance and therefore, an offence, to enclose or encroach on a green, or interfere with, disturb or build on a green, unless this is done "with a view to the better enjoyment of such town or village green."
A council spokesperson said: “Cambridgeshire County Council has always been committed to maintaining free public access to Castle Mound – exactly as it exists today.
“This was agreed by all Members, and made clear to all applicants during the recent marketing of the site.
“This can be ensured and made legally enforceable under existing legislation – and our preferred bidder Brookgate are aware of this and considering how access is not just maintained but further enhanced.
“We can confirm an application was received today (10 June 2019) and officers are in the process of reviewing it. Each town and village green application is considered on its own merits against the relevant legal tests and the appropriate process will be followed."