Katherine Grey

A recent Government Press Release dated the 1st October 2013 has highlighted that The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 has made a number of significant changes to the law on registering new town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006.

Town and village greens are areas of land where local people enjoy pastimes such as organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and similar activities. Anyone can apply under the Commons Act 2006 to register land as a green if it has been used by local people for lawful sports and pastimes ‘as of right’ for at least 20 years. However, the system has been used over recent years to prevent development in rural areas for rural homes, facilities and hospitals across the country.

There are however now circumstances in which it is not possible to register land as a village green. In essence these circumstances relate to where the land has been identified for potential development in the planning system. The result of which is that it will no longer be possible to block local development by making spurious village green applications.

Legitimate village green applications will of course remain protected. However, changes to the system will save local authorities substantial sums of money as village green applications can often lead to expensive and time-consuming public enquiries and court cases. The Government Press Release relays that this monetary saving could be invested into the local communities.

Rural Affairs Minister, Richard Benyon said: “Towns across the country have been held back from getting the developments they want through misuse of the village green system. Rural communities need access to services like healthcare, schools and housing just as much as urban areas. These changes will allow that infrastructure to be built, creating jobs and economic growth.”

As a result of this change in the law we would expect to see an increase in appropriate residential developments being put forward to Local Authorities. The reason being that Developers will now have the confidence that once they have submitted a planning permission application to a Local Authority this cannot be undermined by a village green applications.

Click here to read the full press release “New measures to increase rural home-building” by DERFA

Katherine Gray, LL.B (Hons) LPC, Senior Land Negotiator
01252 419956 katherineg@mackenziesmith.co.uk

Land Department web page