The Commons Act 2006 received royal assent on 19 July 2006, and is arranged in five parts: registration, management, works, miscellaneous, and supplementary and general. It repeals the Commons Registration Act 1965.
To read the whole act for yourself, click here.
Re-registration of common land under the 2006 Act
From 15 December 2014 there will be a new opportunity to register lost commons in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. These two counties are to be added to the list of seven pioneer areas in England where commons can be put back on the register, under part 1 of the Commons Act 2006.
Several hundred square kilometres of ‘waste land’ that was eligible for registration under the 1965 Commons Registration Act was not, in fact, finally registered. As a consequence, it ceased to be recognised as common land. A partial remedy for this defect in the earlier legislation is provided by the Commons Act 2006. Under Schedule 2, 4 of the Act, applications that failed under the original registration process may, in certain circumstances, be reconsidered – offering, in effect, a second chance for the land to be confirmed (‘re-registered’) as common. Land that is re-registered in this way will enjoy the special legal protection afforded to common land. It will also be subject to the public right of access introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; or, may qualify as a section 193 ‘urban’ common (in which case, it would also be subject to a right of access for horse-riders).
Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 provides everybody with a time limited opportunity to rescue some of the commons which failed to be registered under the 1965 Act. In seven pioneer areas the registers reopened on 1 October 2008. These are:
Full commencement of Part 1 in other areas will be reconsidered when resources permit, which will probably be during the next Parliament (2015) at the earliest.
An interesting and informative blog from Hugh Craddock, who formerly worked for DETR and then Defra on preparing and implementing access legislation under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000, and subsequently had policy responsibility for drafting the Commons Bill and then implementing the Commons Act 2006.
Successful applications and case studies in pioneer areas
Please click here for further information on successful applications for re-registration in the Cornwall pioneer area, including two case studies.
Regulations and guidance
New regulations (2008 and 2009) and guidance, for these pioneer areas only, prescribe the process for making applications to amend the registers of common land and town and village greens and can be viewed on the Defra website. The society has also issued an information sheet Commons Act 2006 Part 1 (Registration) Implementation in pioneer areas.
Applications can be made to register or deregister certain areas of land. Forms are available from the registration authority. The society has issued a free DIY guide on how to apply to register eligible commons.
If you live in one of the pioneer areas, we would like to encourage you to take up the challenge of getting areas of common re-registered, and we are willing to help and advise you with this when you become a member of the society.
The Open Spaces Society is grateful to one of our supporters, Steve Byrne, who has been undertaking detailed research about re-registration, and has provided the set of search sheets and other guidance to applicants. Steve has recently created his own site which contains detailed information about the work he has done. To visit his site, click here. Steve has received support from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.
Making a request to a local authority
To make a request to a commons registration authority, we suggest you write to the commons registration authority using the following template. Remember that in two-tier local authority areas, the commons registration authority is the upper tier authority: the same one as is responsible for highways and rights of way. Some inner city authorities may have little or no registered land, and may be a bit bemused to receive your request.
Template email for non-pioneer commons registration authorities:
With effect from 15 December 2014, applications may be made to your authority, as a commons registration authority, under section 19 of, or any of paragraphs 6 to 9 of Schedule 2 to, the Commons Act 2006, for the deregistration of certain wrongly registered common land or town or village green.
Under regulation 21(1)(b) of the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2014 (as applied by para.2(h) of Schedule 8 to the Regulations), an authority which receives such an application must "serve a notice of the application by e-mail on anyone who has previously asked to be informed of all applications, and who has given the authority an e-mail address for that purpose".
This email asks that I be informed of all applications made to your authority under these provisions. Please use the following email address for this purpose: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would appreciate an email confirming that my request has been acted upon.
Template for pioneer commons registration authorities (Kent, Devon, Hert-fordshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, but not including any unitary authorities within these areas, and Blackburn with Darwen, Cornwall, and Herefordshire)
Under regulation 21(1)(b) of the Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2014, an authority which receives an application under Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 must "serve a notice of the application by e-mail on anyone who has previously asked to be informed of all applications, and who has given the authority an e-mail address for that purpose".
Under regulation 22(5), the authority is under a similar obligation in respect of proposals made by the authority for the purposes of Part 1. This email asks that I be informed of all applications made to, and proposals made by, your authority under these provisions. Please use the following email address for this purpose: email@example.com. I would appreciate an email confirming that my request has been acted upon.
Finding your commons registration team
You can find details of the email address for the commons registration team in some authorities on the website of the Association of Commons Registration Authorities (ACRA), and for pioneer authorities in our own information sheet. For other authorities, try Googling 'commons registration [your authority]', or look for the 'Contact' details on the home page of the authority's website.
Correction of mistakes
From 15 December 2014 Section 19(2)(a) and paras 6-9 of Schedule 2 of the 2006 Act will take effect throughout England to allow respectively for the correction of mistakes made by the authority and the removal of wrongly registered land. These types of applications can be submitted from 1 December 2014. Defra have issued a fact sheet on correcting the register and this is also covered in the society's information sheet Commons Act 2006 Part 1 (Registration) Implementation in pioneer areas.