HC Deb 02 May 1864 vol 174 cc2023-5

said, that last year a Bill was introduced for the inclosure of a portion of Chigwell parish, and on looking into the matter it was found that it proposed to hand over to the Inclosure Commissioners some 600 or 700 acres of land, which, from time immemorial, had been used by the public, forming part of Hainault Forest. Petitions were presented against the Bill, and it was referred to a Select Committee, which added to it a clause, providing that fifty acres of ground should be set apart for public recreation. Relying on this clause, the public took very little further trouble in the matter; but some time afterwards it was found that the assistant valuer had set out fifty acres, of which two-thirds were swamp and the other third gravel. It was clear that if this project were sanctioned, the intention of the clause added by the Select Committee would be nullified. The Inclosure Commissioners had very properly at first refused their sanction to it; but within the last few weeks it had been rumoured that the sanction they had originally refused to the plan had now been given to it. In the same parish there had been, from time immemorial, opposite a house called the May Pole, very much frequented by the public, a large piece of green used for cricket and other purposes of recreation. He was told that the Commissioners had determined to enclose this green. He could not say whether it was a Village Green under the Act of Parliament; but, certainly, it had been used from time immemorial for purposes of recreation. He wished, therefore, to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether it is now the intention of the Inclosure Commissioners to set out the fifty acres of Recreation Ground, under the Inclosure Act of last Session, for the parish of Chigwell, Essex, at the spot which they, in November, 1862 (in their Order to the Valuer), disapproved of, such spot being wet and swampy; and whether the Village Green, opposite the May Pole at Chigwell Row, is to be preserved (in accordance with the fifteenth section of the General Inclosure Act of 1845), as it has heretofore, from time immemorial, been a place for the recreation and enjoyment of the people?


said, it was quite true that the provisional orders of the Inclosure Commissioners were sanctioned by Act of Parliament, with the Amendment that fifty acres of ground should be set apart in the pariah for the purpose of public recreation. After the Act passed a valuer was appointed in the usual manner at a public meeting in the parish, and instructions were there drawn up for him. The Act of Parliament directed that the fifty acres should be at or near a spot marked A on the plans, and the instructions drawn up at the meeting directed the valuer to set them out within four given spots. The Inclosure Commissioners disallowed the instructions, not on the ground that the area was swampy, but because they considered that at that particular stage of the proceedings it was advisable that the discretion of the valuer should not be tied up, and that, under the circumstances, he should view the ground and form his own opinion. Since the valuer was appointed—a gentleman of great experience as a land surveyor — he had proceeded under the general supervision of the Inclosure Commissioners, and he was informed that his report was likely to be confirmed within the present year. On behalf of the Commissioners, however, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that the intentions of the Act of Parliament would not be nullified, and that the fifty acres would be of such a character as was contemplated when the clause was passed. Power was given to drain and level any land that might be set apart for the public; and if there were, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, any gravel pits within the area set out, care would be taken to fill them up, and to make the ground in every way available for the pur pose of recreation. With regard to the second question, he was informed that the Assistant Commissioner had reported that there was no Village Green in the neighbourhood, nor had there been any claim of the sort made.

Motion agreed to.