Hopkins Homes loses appeal to remove protective status for bowling green

The former bowling green space as it appears today

The former bowling green space as it appears today - Credit: CSA member

Developers have lost their latest legal challenge to prevent a former bowling green being protected as an asset of community value (ACV). 

The former bowling green in Melton was marked as an ACV in November 2019 after the Melton Park Community Scheme Association (CSA) sought to ensure the site remained in community use as enshrined in an agreement on the land signed by Hopkins Homes in the 1990s.

Hopkins Homes affiliate Hopkin and Moore, had previously applied to build three properties on the site but had later withdrawn its application.

The developers had argued that the site should not have been listed as an ACV because of the time that had lapsed since it had been used by the community. 

Hopkins Homes lost an appeal to have ACV status removed by East Suffolk Council in April 2020

In November 2020 Hopkins went to court over the matter and again appealed for the status to be removed on the grounds that it wasn't currently being used.

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It also argued that the land had never benefitted the community and was only used privately by staff and patients at the hospital. 

The CSA disputed this and argued that the green had been opened to the wider community and as such had been separate from the hospital.

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Following submissions, Judge Moira Macmillan, dismissed the appeal saying it was "a matter of concern that some of the appellant’s submissions may not reflect its full knowledge of events".

"This is an important step for the community here and in Melton," said Christopher Hutton-Williams, joint leader of the CSA. 

"CSA invites James Hopkins and Simon Bryan to meet during the next month.

"It is time to take down the fencing and have a constructive conversation about the ways forward and what we and Hopkins can contribute .

"Developers in this age should take account of the communities in which they operate and ensure some of that profit comes back into the local area."

Simon Bryan, Group Development Director for Hopkins Homes, said: “We are disappointed that our appeal against the decision to designate the land to the north east of Garrod Approach, Melton, as an Asset of Community Value has been rejected, but we respect the judge’s decision on this matter. We will now take the time to review our plans in light of this decision.

 “Our intention remains to bring forward a set of proposals for the site, and for other Hopkins Homes land in the area, that would deliver benefits for Melton. These proposals wouldn’t just benefit a small section of the community as proposed under the ACV proposals, as they would deliver significant long-term benefits to a much wider area of the Melton community, including supporting the future of sports and leisure facilities in this area.”

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: “East Suffolk Council is really pleased that both the original decision to list this site as an Asset of Community Value, and the subsequent review decision to uphold the original listening, have been endorsed and the appeal dismissed.

 “The community ‘Right to Bid’, introduced through the Localism Act, is there to protect assets, such as land and buildings, that are valued by local communities. The council is committed to enable this by giving town and parish councils and community groups the opportunity to take on the maintenance of such assets when they come up for sale, so that future generations can get to enjoy them too. In fact, there are currently more than 50 sites across East Suffolk listed as Assets of Community Value.”

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