Having registered the Englefield Green Conservation Area as such on 2nd February 1976 (under previous legislation) and approved by minuted decision, the Crown Commissioners registering this land as a village green, RBC has imposed severe restrictions on itself, and others, from those dates. These areas are designated so the sort of inappropriate development that is now on the green is not permitted. Under Section 29 of the Commons Act 1876, building a fenced area on a registered village green is deemed to be a public nuisance.
Regarding the Conservation Area, much stricter control over development than elsewhere should be exercised with the object of preserving or enhancing the very qualities that underpin the designation. No other Conservation Area in the Borough has a playground, presumably for this very reason. Over 6 years since the RBC 2001 plan was published and over 30 years since the Englefield Green Conservation Area was so designated, there is still no specific design guidance for this area.
In the absence of any guidance, we must look elsewhere to establish these particular characteristics. So, considering:- (i) The very name. This could, no doubt, be debated indefinitely, but Englefield Green is thought to derive from Saxon words. 'Inga', when used at the beginning of a word, rather than in the middle or end, being a Saxon name. 'Feld',meaning open country or space. I.e. 'Inga's open space'.
(ii)Runnymede Historical Information Sheet 7, "Inga's open space - ...the green, however, was exempted (from enclosure under the 1814 Act). Englefield Green would have looked very different today, had it not been for this decision. Its open character was, however, preserved and it is this which gives it a distinctive charm today."
(iii) RBC minute records. The area is referred to, in Council agendas and minute records, as a 'sensitive and historically important part of the Green Belt and the Englefield Green Conservation Area' (e.g. EGC minutes 25/2/04, 1/12/04, Leisure and Environment Committee minutes 20/05/04).
(iv) Various maps of the area over the centuries, including, John Rocque's of 1752, Abraham Driver's of 1805, the 1817 Inclosure award map, and the Ordinance Survey map of 1870 show the land 'open and uninclosed'. The 1950s picture in Graham Dennis's book shows what this corner of the Green still looked like shortly before the Council took over.
So, in the absence of any specific guidance from RBC, it is submitted that the main characteristic of the Crown Land within the Conservation Area to be preserved or enhanced, is that it is open and free from the built form.
The Council took a lease of the land in 1955, demising the management of the Green to the EGC. At once, this corner of Inga's Open Space, evidentially unaltered and free of the built form since Saxon times, starts its transformation into the suburban park RBC now appear to mistakenly assume it is. The pond is filled in, a pavilion, toilets, a shed, a playground, a larger playground, and a disabled ramp are built, permission is granted to enclose the pavilion veranda, and, recently, to extend the pavilion with storage areas and build yet another ramp and associated viewing deck.......There are over 500 structures already on the common, nearly all placed there by RBC, since they took the Lease. The only one on the West side of the Green with any thought behind it being the original Cricket Pavilion, allowing a traditional village green game that has been played here for around 200 years to continue to the benefit of all. This building was already on the Common when it was provisionally registered as a village green on 5/6/67.