Paths and Open Spaces in Wales

The Open Spaces Society has been defending paths and open spaces in Wales since 1865.

We have specialist knowledge of Welsh planning laws and regularly support our members in Wales to protect the open spaces they care about.

We are consulted by the Welsh Government on all applications for works on common land, and by highway authorities on all changes to the public-path network.

Open spaces and paths are crucial to the economy, health and well-being of Wales, its history, culture and present-day living.

If these places are in good health, people will visit them for recreation and enjoyment, and the local economy will benefit.

Local councils have a vital role to play in creating sustainable communities—and an important means of achieving this is through the creation and care of open space.

Securing green infrastructure in and around communities and neighbourhoods is vital because it can provide a network of paths and spaces, places for recreation, habitats for wildlife and natural corridors and flood mitigation.

The society can offer guidance on voluntary registration as a town/village green under section 15(8) of the Commons Act 2006.

Open space protection in Wales is set out in the Welsh Planning Policy page.

Further information can be found in the Technical Advice Note (TAN) 16, Sport, Recreation and Open Space 2009.

Members should check policies in their local development plan and any local supplementary planning guidance notes on open space protection.

The society also provides professional training to local councils, national park authorities, access users, commons managers and anyone with an interest in our commons, greens and open spaces, including whole-day courses tailored to your requirements.

Natural Resources Wales has a greenspace toolkit which helps local authorities plan and improve green space for local people and some councils have supplementary planning guidance:

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Caerphilly CBC sets out the council’s approach to the protection of open space. It supplements Policy CW7 Protection of Open space in the Local Development plan.

Carmarthenshire CC have supplementary planning guidance ( Leisure and Open Space) in respect of requirements for new developments in the local development plan.

Swansea is developing an open space strategy up to 2025.

Did you know?

Eight per cent of Wales is common land, immensely important for its natural beauty, wildlife habitats, archaeology and opportunities for informal recreation.

No other type of land offers such a range of public benefits.

Under Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 you can apply to register lost commons in Wales, subject to satisfying the criteria.  See our information sheet for further details.

Commons are also crucial to the Welsh economy and sustainability because they provide grazing land (especially for hill farmers), and are significant tourist attractions.

If you live in Wales

Perhaps we can help you. Find out if we have a local correspondent in your area.

Alternatively, you can call our head office in Henley-on-Thames at 01491 573535 or email to

Further resources about Paths and Open Spaces in Wales

  • A charter for Wales's open spaces

    Read our August 2020 charter for the promotion and protection of open spaces so that everyone in Wales can benefit.

  • Landowner statements: the threat to village greens (Wales)

    Now you must apply to register land as a green in Wales within two years of a landowner’s challenge to your use of the land for informal recreation

  • Wales Useful Links

    Links relevant to Wales

  • Wales Environment Link

    The Open Spaces Society is a member of Wales Environment Link (WEL).

  • Cynllun gweithredu ar gyfer Llywodraeth Cymru 2016

    Cynllun Gweithredu Cymdeithas y Mannau Agored ar gyfer Llywodraeth Cymru, 2016-2021

  • Commons Act 2006 (Wales)

    Since 2008 it has been possible to register lost commons in seven pioneer areas in England From 5 May 2017, this opportunity to register lost commons is also available in Wales.

  • Enjoying Access to the outdoors in Wales

    The Welsh Government is consulting on access to the outdoors....

  • Natural Resources Wales toolkit

    Local green spaces report from Natural Resources Wales.

  • Commons: Buildings, fences and other works on common land in England and Wales

    A practical guide for those wishing to carry out a lawful operation on a common and those wanting to defend a common against unlawful or undesirable operations.

  • Action Plan for Wales 2016

    Our Action Plan for the Welsh Government chimes with the seven principles in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

  • Placemaking Wales Charter

    We have signed the Placemaking Wales Charter, pledging to support its objectives.

  • Planning (Wales) Act 2015 - 2018 Update

    The Planning ( Wales) Act 2015 received Royal Assent in 2015 and Part 8, sections 52 – 54 came into force on 22 October 2018.

  • Guidance for registering land as a town or village green in Wales

    This document on the Welsh government website explains when land may qualify for registration as a town or village green and how to apply.

  • Wales - Rights of way

    Local authorities have primary responsibility for public rights of way in their areas.

  • Rights of way and wider access

    Includes details of the right of access for open country, rights of way and common land.

  • Nature Recovery Action Plan 2020-21

    Welsh Government strategy to restore the natural environment and make it more resilient.