Judgments - Regina v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Appellant) and others Ex Parte O'Byrne (Respondent)

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84. In the present case the stables and the flat above them were on the land when Croydon bought it and declared that it was to be Green Belt land. They were still there when the park was opened to the public later in 1948. So far as relevant, the restrictions on the user of Green Belt land have applied to the stables and flat from the time of Croydon's declaration in 1948 and continue to do so. More particularly, if Croydon grant a long lease to the respondent under section 138(1) of the 1985 Act, the flat will continue to be Green Belt land and the relevant restrictions will continue to apply to it. The change from public to private ownership will make no difference to this. Indeed, of the 1.2 million acres of Green Belt land round London all but approximately 33,000 are in private hands. Private houses built on that private land are bought and sold without the consent of the Secretary of State. The respondent's flat will simply become another of these private houses on Green Belt land and will be treated accordingly. Approaching the matter in that way, rather than from the narrower angle of the somewhat special facts of this case, I consider that there would have been no reason for Parliament to stipulate that a secure tenant's right to buy should arise only where the Secretary of State gave his consent under the 1938 Act, since the change from public to private ownership under the 1985 Act does not in principle impair the effectiveness of the Green Belt.

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Prepared 14 November 2002