Update - 29th August 2018
In response to a letter in the Malvern Gazette on the 24th August -
There were numerous inaccuracies in Brian Regimbeau’s letter printed in the Malvern Gazette on 24th August. In particular, we would like to confirm that no decision has been made on the application for an easement off Chance Lane. Our easement policy and more information on what the board might consider when making a decision can be found below.
Please note that the application will not be dealt with at the upcoming Board meeting on 13 September. Further information will be given on the web site once a date for the meeting to discuss the easement has been set.
Original post - 16th August 2018
Readers may be aware that we have received an application for an easement across land under our jurisdiction. Some questions have been raised about the application and so we wish to provide you with more information regarding the application and our easement policies.
Malvern Hills Trust (MHT) received an application for an easement from the Rose Farm Partnership in late 2016. Its express purpose is to serve a potential housing development on 25 acres of farmland lying between Chance Lane, Guarlford Road and Jackpits Lane.
The vehicular access points requested are a 2-way surfaced road (with pavements) leading from Chance Lane and a “grasscrete” emergency access 3m wide which would cross Jackpits Lane to join Hall Green Close. The applicants have asked for a pavement along the west side of Chance Lane from the new access to Guarlford Road and MHT have also been asked to facilitate the widening of Chance Lane by 0.5m, if this is required by Worcestershire County Council Highways Department. There are also pedestrian access points but this is not an issue for the Trust as all of its land is open to the public.
Since then, MHT have been working to obtain sufficient information in order that the Board can make a decision on the application, including some limitations on the way in which the site might be developed in order to minimize the impact on MHT land.
There has been some criticism of the Trust for failing to provide more information but some details of the application are still outstanding, although these are expected in the near future. No Board meeting date has been set. Once the meeting date has been set, copies of the Board papers will be available to the public in the normal way.
Easement policy and decisions
MHT have a power to grant easements set out in their Acts and can only consider the application in accordance with that power, their objects under the Acts and charity law.
The power requires MHT to take account of the effect of the easement on the “natural aspect” of MHT land. The trustees may not take into account the effect on any other land or on Malvern in general. That is the reason why the adjoining landowners were asked to comment limited to this particular issue.
MHT’s generally policy in relation to easements applications is to ask any landowner who wants access over MHT land to apply for the necessary easement before they apply for planning permission. If approval is given, MHT would enter into an agreement to grant the easement. The easement itself would not be granted until planning permission was obtained.
MHT is not able to consider any “planning consequences” except in so far as they impact on MHT land. Whether this is a suitable site for development, whether there are sufficient local facilities and whether these access roads are appropriate are matters solely for the South Worcestershire Councils (when they review the South Worcestershire Development Plan) and Malvern Hills District Council (if there is a planning application).
When considering any application for an easement MHT are bound in law to ensure they receive full value for the rights they are granting. Any money received from granting an easement would be paid into the Parliamentary Fund, which is part of the permanent endowment, and the capital can only be spent on items such as land purchase or improvements to land and buildings.
As a charity MHT has a duty to act in the best interest of fulfilling its charitable objectives. The trustees’ main duties under the Acts are to “preserve the ‘natural aspect’ and to keep MHT land open and unbuilt on as a public open space. In making their decision, the trustees have to weigh up what public benefit they could provide with any money they might receive, possibly either by buying a part of the Hills which they do not own, or another piece of nearby land for the public to enjoy.