The village green is seen by many as a fundamental part of the English landscape and as something that needs to be preserved at all costs. For some landowners and developers, the threat of a village green application may be seen as an unnecessary inconvenience and as something which is out of step with the modern world. These days a village green doesn’t necessarily mean a patch of grassy land surrounded by picturesque cottages. In fact, it could be a beach, or just a vacant patch of scrubland in the middle of a city. Generally, so long as the provisions of the Commons Act 2006 and the common law in this area are satisfied, land can be registered as a Town or Village Green.
An application can be made to a Commons Registration Authority for the registration of a new Town or Village Green where a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years and they continue to do so at the time of the application. Sometimes the use of the land will be continuing at the date the application is made but in other cases the use will not be continuing on the basis that the landowner has prevented access to the land. In the latter situation, there will be a limitation period within which an application must be made, so an application would need to be made promptly.
One thing seems certain: as development begins to increase and has the potential to affect open spaces, there are likely to be more applications to local authorities to register Town and Village Greens.
Since the implementation of the Commons Act 2006 and subordinate legislation, the law has become increasingly complex in what was already a complicated area to begin with, and it is changing very quickly. It is therefore important to seek legal advice in these matters so that you can get it right.
Whether you are an applicant to register village green or you are landowner/developer seeking to defeat such an application, Lawson Lewis Blakers can help you. Our solicitors have a great deal of knowledge and experience in dealing with Town and Village Greens, and if you would like advice on making an application to register a Town or Village Green, advice on defeating such a claim, or would like us to handle the entire case for you from the start through to the end, we would be pleased to assist.
For further information, please contact Richard Palmer below.