Building Roads On Putney Common Would Be Illegal

According to new legal advice received by FoPC

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FoPC obtains new legal advice demonstrating that building roads on the Common is unlawful and issues statement calling on WPCC not to execute the deed of easement with WPC.

The following letter was sent to Andrew Simon, Chair of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators on the 7th of November.

Dear Mr Simon,

This letter is addressed to you as Chair of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators and your colleagues on the WPCC board of trustees.

Following the exchange of letters between our respective solicitors, Friends of Putney Common have sought further legal advice from Mr Philip Petchey of FTB Chambers who was instructed on our behalf by the Pro Bono Unit. He was asked to advise us on the legality of the agreement between the WPCC and Wandsworth Borough Council dated 14th of February 2012.

As you will be aware from previous correspondence we have also obtained an opinion from Mr Clive Moys of Radcliffe Chambers covering the same matter.

In both cases we wished to establish whether the Conservators have acted within the powers granted by the 1871 WPC Act when granting an easement to Wandsworth Borough Council to build an accessway and a turnaround on Putney Lower Common. The advice given to FoPC by both Barristers clearly states that WPCC do not have such powers.

For your information we are attaching a complete copy of the advice provided by Mr Petchey. We would refer you not only to the full legal argument contained in Mr Petchey's advice but in particular to paragraphs 92 and 93. He states the position, with which we are in complete agreement, that it is always to be hoped that legal disputes can be resolved without recourse to the Courts. He also suggests that the Conservators do not execute the deed of easement while a careful reassessment of your position is carried out.

Should the Conservators decide not to take such action and allow matters to proceed as they now stand we regret that it will be necessary for the Friends of Putney Common to take the matter further through formal legal proceedings.

A spokesman for FoPC issued the following statement today:
"We now expect the Conservators to follow the legal advice we have provided to them and not execute the deed of easement allowing the Council to build a road system on the Common. The access, barriers and coach turnaround are undoubtedly in contravention of the WPC 1871 Act.

He continued:
" FoPC have now obtained two separate legal opinions; both clearly demonstrated that the WPCC are acting beyond their statutory powers. The Conservators must now decide to accept that the agreement with Wandsworth Borough Council is unlawful and agree to bring it to an end.

The expansion of the proposed development on to Putney Common is being forced by the over intensive development approved by Wandsworth. Although some 800 local residents objected to the application, including the unlawful expansion on to the Common, they were ignored by both Wandsworth Planning Committee and the Commons Conservators. The Conservators primary role is to protect the Common, not to allow roads to be built on it.

Should the Conservators decide to ignore their legal responsibilities the next step will inevitably involve an application to the courts to declare the easement unlawful. The Conservators will be well aware that their actions are unlawful, and we call on them to face up to this reality now, rather than unnecessary legal action.

Having lain semi-derelict for some 15 years, a solution for the site must be found as a matter of urgency, and not be allowed to become mired in lengthy court proceedings."

The legal opinon can be viewed on the website.


November 8, 2012