Keep public land in public hands: The Open Spaces Project

Fighting the unlawful and irreversible sale of open spaces in London

When public space near you is threatened, it can be hard to know how to fight back. There’s no widely available legal advice in this area. It can feel like the local authority holds all the cards and your community has no say.

PILC aims to bring greater accountability and transparency to local authority decision-making around the disposal of public open spaces. By shining a light on their processes, we aim to make sure that open spaces are not unlawfully and irreversibly sold.

PILC puts the power of the law into your community

As much of the land in question was specifically given for public use, we start by looking into the legal purpose of the land in question. This can help determine whether the local authority is selling on the land unlawfully. We then help you to put this evidence to them.

The project focuses on protecting threatened public open spaces around London by:

– Working with you and your community to understand the threat to the open space, specifically the proposals, what stage you’re at and what consultation has taken place to date.
– Establishing the legal history of the land through archive research. This helps us to determine what the land is legally for (known as its statutory purpose).
– Assisting you and your community to put this evidence to the local authority. We do this by asking councils to account for its decision in the context of the land’s statutory purpose, and the statutory powers and duties it has over the land.

This community football club used a legal letter to get their local council and West Ham United FC to back down from trying to sell off their grounds.

This community took their local council to the High Court to show that renting their local park is unlawful.

Funding

We are a law centre, meaning we mostly take on cases for clients who are eligible for public funding, called Legal Aid.

Unfortunately, due to government cuts to Legal Aid, the ability for people to access public funding is dropping.  If you’re not eligible for Legal Aid, we can also discuss alternative funding with you such as launching a Crowdfunder campaign.

Who to contact

If you’d like to get in touch about saving a park or open space near you, contact harriet.child@pilc.org.uk