Villagers celebrate victory in 'battle of East Rudham common'

The tiny village common in East Rudham, near Fakenham

The tiny village common in East Rudham, near Fakenham - Credit: Open Spaces Society

As village commons go, it is smaller than most.

But when a power company tried to put an electricity substation on the tiny patch of land in East Rudham, locals went in to battle to defend it.

Eastern Power Networks had applied under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 to install a three-metre square substation on the plot. 

It is just one-eighth-of-a-hectare in size, located south of Broomsthorpe Road and owned by East Rudham Parish Council. 

The Open Spaces Society - a national campaign group which is notified of all such applications - objected, highlighting that the common was the old site of the village pond, situated within former allotment gardens and was a pleasing amenity for the village.

A number of local residents also expressed their frustration and submitted objections to the proposal. 

The council subsequently refused permission, prompting Eastern Power Networks to withdraw its application. 

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Hugh Craddock, case officer for the Open Spaces Society, called the decision an "excellent outcome". 

He added: "The development would have dominated this tiny green space and completely altered its character

"We are delighted that local people have protested and that the parish council has withdrawn consent so that the common remains unimpaired for all to enjoy."

Voicing its opposition, the Open Spaces Society had said the substation - to be made of glass-reinforced-plastic with associated cabling - would be "ugly" and dominate the common, while threatening a growing mountain ash tree.

The society also questioned why it should be sited here rather than in another part of East Rudham, which is between Fakenham and the Wash.

While the purpose of the section 38 legislation is to allow work which will maintain or improve the condition of open spaces and provide some public benefit, it was argued that the planned project would do "none of those things".

Formed in 1865, the Open Spaces Society is a campaign group that works to protect public rights of way and open spaces in the UK, predominantly common land, public paths and village greens. 

For more information on its efforts  to preserve land across the country, visit www.oss.org.uk.