Singler's Marsh Nature Reserve and Local Wildlife Site

Singler's Marsh nature reserve

Applications to register the site as a Village Green - clarification of the council's position.

In 2002 an application was made to Hertfordshire County Council, the relevant ‘Registration Authority’, to register Singler’s Marsh as a Town and Village Green. The outcome of the application was a decision, by the Registration Authority, to refuse the application.

In October 2020 a second application was made to register Singler’s Marsh as a Town and Village Green and in July 2022 a third application was submitted. There are, currently, two applications which are being considered by the Registration Authority in respect of Singler’s Marsh.

Because Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (“the Council”) is an owner of Singler’s Marsh, the Registration Authority invited the Council to reply to each of the two ‘live’ applications.

In the Council’s view, neither application meets the legal criteria for registration as a village green. One criterion is that use of the land, during the relevant period of time, has taken place without permission or any right to use the land. The Council believes that, as a minimum, whether expressly or impliedly, permission has been given to use the land.

As the landowner, the Council does not think that it would be right to allow village green status to be granted in circumstances where the legal criteria are not met. The Council has, therefore, submitted objections to each of the applications on the basis that the applications do not meet the legal requirements for registration.

In addition, Singler’s Marsh is both a registered Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve. The Council does not believe that registration as a village green would be compatible with the status of the site as a Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve. The Council believes that it is best placed to control the site and its use – including its use as a Nature Reserve and Wildlife Site – on behalf of all residents, which its current status enables it to do.

For these reasons the Council is continuing its objections to the two ‘live applications’. Ultimately, having considered all the matters put forward both for and against registration, it will be for the Registration Authority to make the decision as to whether or not to register Singler’s Marsh as a village green.

Councillor Stephen Boulton, Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Member, Resources and Planning, said:

“We are aware that there has been some speculation relating to our objections to the applications to register Singler’s Marsh Nature Reserve and Local Wildlife Site as a Village Green. Whilst there are limitations on what we can say regarding this unique habitat at this time, due to the ongoing legal proceedings, I hope that this statement gives some assurance that we are acting reasonably and in good faith in relation to the Village Green applications.”

Published: 27th February 2023