New law opens door to saving green spaces

Mark mark at
Mon Apr 9 12:49:39 BST 2007

Taken from the Open Spaces Society website:

New law opens door to saving green spaces
6 April 2007

On Good Friday a new law for registering village greens came into effect.(1)

This law replaces and clarifies the previous law on registering land as a
town or village green,(2) where it has been used by local people, as of
right,(3) for recreation for 20 years.

Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: 'This clarification of the law will
make it easier for people to apply to register land as a town or village
green, thereby saving it from development and securing its enjoyment by
the local population.(4)

‘The new provisions limit the ways in which a landowner can defeat an
application. They provide a period of grace after the use of land, as of
right, has been ended by a landowner, during which an application can be
made. Before now, the use had to continue right up to the date of
registration, which meant that landowners could thwart an application by
erecting a notice saying “keep out”.

‘The provisions ensure that a landowner granting permission for use of the
land when there has already been 20 years use as of right cannot defeat an

‘Any period of statutory closure of land, for example during
foot-and-mouth disease, is now disregarded when calculating the 20-year
period of use.

‘Furthermore, thanks to the Open Spaces Society’s proposed amendments to
the Commons Bill, for the first time landowners will be able to dedicate
land as a village green. We shall encourage them to do so,’ concludes

(1) Land can be registered as a town or village green if it has been used
by local people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ (ie informal recreation)
for 20 years, freely and openly. The registration authority is the county
or unitary council.

(2) The law is contained in section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, which
comes into effect on 6 April 2007. Full details can be found at

(3) Use as of right, means that the use was without being secret, without
force and without permission from the landowner.

(4) Any person may apply to the registration authority to register land as
a green. Once registered, it is protected from encroachment and
development by section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1845 and section 29 of the
Commons Act 1876. Local people have a right to enjoy the land for


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