Town & Village Greens and Common Land

Advising on the implications for developments of common land and town and village green registration.

Local Authorities are responsible for maintaining a register of town and village greens and a register of common land.  

You can register a town and village green if it can be established that a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality or neighbourhood within a locality have used the land for lawful sports and pastimes for a period of 20 years.

Often an application to register a town and village green is taken as a tactic to seek to prevent development of the land. There are a number of applications that are still pending with local authorities, with a significant backlog in determining town and village green applications. Delays of between five and ten years are not unusual. This is important if you are considering developing land as, once declared, a town and village green will effectively prevent the development of the land and the value will be significantly affected.

We can advise on the possibility of town and village greens being registered and have experience appearing at public inquiries to seek to resist a town and village green application. There are also a provisions that would statutorily bar a town and village green application from succeeding.

Determining common land is slightly different and is an area of common land owned by one or more people where ‘commoners’ are entitled to use the land or take resources from it – such as the right to graze animals or take timber for example. 

If there is an area of common land within a development site, no development of the common land itself can take place unless the common land is de-registered or some form of exchange has taken place - to, in effect, exchange the common land for some other land within the vicinity.

There is also provision whereby common land may have been registered in error and it can be de-registered from the property.

We have significant experience advising on these issues and have successfully de-registered common land using the statutory process, including case preparation and attendance at public inquiries to persuade the registration authority that the statutory criteria have been met.

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