Saving Open Spaces – The Future

Despite its solid history of campaigning, the society has not, unfortunately, done itself out of a job.

The society has adopted a mix of methods to champion its cause: direct action, as at Berkhamsted Common in 1866; drafting legislation, such as the Rights of Way Act 1932; court action, whether adversarial or friendly to establish a legal principle; lobbying; publicity; and, nowadays, social media. It has been enormously fortunate having access to top lawyers throughout its existence, from Robert Hunter in the early days to George Laurence QC and Jerry Pearlman LLB in more recent years.

Deccani sheep on common land in Andhra Pradesh, Indai
Deccani sheep on common land in Andhra Pradesh, Indai
Kingsmead Field, Kent 1

Common land, in a strictly legal sense, exists only in England and Wales, but common resources are present all over the planet: they may be land, water, air, knowledge or the internet. Today the society is part of a growing campaign to defend global commons and to help communities worldwide to protect and nurture their common resources.

In Britain we follow our dream of a land where everyone has open space close to their home, every public path is recorded and protected, and our commons are well managed and in good heart. At the society we rely on the generosity of our members and supporters to enable us to continue the crusade we started 150 years ago.

Further reading

Ashbrook, Kate, Our Common Right (Open Spaces Society, 1987)

Bathe, Graham, Common Land (Pitkin and Open Spaces Society, 2015)

Collett, Janet, Study of Early Connections between the National Trust and the Open Spaces Society (unpublished notes, 1990)

Cowell, Ben, Sir Robert Hunter (Pitkin and National Trust, 2013)

Legg, Rodney, National Trust Centenary, common roots of 1895 (Wincanton Press, 1994)

Legg, Rodney, ‘Saving Open Spaces’ (unpublished notes for a book, 2007)

Shaw-Lefevre, George, English Commons and Forests (Cassell, 1894)

Stephenson, Tom, Forbidden Land (Manchester University Press, 1989)

Williams, W.H., The Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society 1865–1965, a short history of the society and its work (COSFPS, 1965)