Last edited 15 Feb 2021

Village green registration

Town and village greens are areas of land where local people regularly indulge in sports and pastimes such as; organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and similar activities. ‘Green’ status is intended to protect such land from development. Under section 15(1) of the Commons Act 2006, anyone can register land as a green if it has been used by local people for lawful sports and pastimes without permission, force or secrecy for at least 20 years.

However, in 2010, the Penfold Review (Review of non-planning consents) suggested that applications to register greens were sometimes made solely to frustrate developments that had already received planning permission. As a consequence, a number of reforms were made.

In April 2013, The Growth and Infrastructure Act was introduced, one of the effects of which was to prevent the improper registration of greens from stopping development by closing a loophole that made it possible to submit a green application on land which had already been designated for development.

In October 2013 the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) acknowledged that “loopholes in the system have increasingly been abused by people looking to stop local development… As well as having a negative effect on the rural economy and reducing the value of land – often by over 90 per cent – this reduces the availability of rural homes, facilities and hospitals across the country...” (ref. DEFRA).

From October 2013 therefore, applications to register greens have to be made within a year of the land’s use, rather than two.

In addition, landowners will be able to protect their land from registration through new landowner statements (see The Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) and Dedicated Highways (Landowner Statements and Declarations) (England) Regulations 2013). This enables landowners to deposit a statement and map with the local planning authority (and displaying it on site for six weeks), preventing any new entitlement to green registration arising. Landowner statements have to be renewed every 20 years.

In December 2013, the government announced further plans to terminate the right to make a town or village green application two years from the time a draft local plan is published for consultation (See Consultation on registration of new town or village greens: proposed amendments to Schedule 1A (Exclusion of Right under section 15) to the Commons Act 2006: summary of responses and government response).

In February 2014, DEFRA issued Guidance to Commons Registration Authorities in England, confirming the status and procedures for landowner statements and introducing 14 new trigger events that prevent registration. Trigger events include events such as; publication or adoption of a draft local or nieghbourhood plan which identifies the land for potential development; and applications for Nationally Significant Infrastructure projects.

NB: DEFRA suggest that an alternative means of protecting land is through Local Green Space designation which empowers local communities to protect green spaces of local importance for reasons including setting and nature conservation. Local communities will be able to identify green spaces through their local and neighbourhood plans, which will then receive protection equivalent to green belt land. The National Planning Policy Framework suggests that designation as Local Green Space should only be used:

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