Wales: Our Common Heritage
The Open Spaces Society’s Action Plan for the
Welsh Government, 2016-2021
Our Action Plan for the Welsh Government chimes with the seven principles in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015: 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 heart, people will visit them for recreation and enjoyment, and the local economy will benefit. The success of the Wales Coast Path is testament to this.
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. Commons are also crucial to the Welsh economy and sustainability because they provide grazing land (especially for hill farmers), and are significant tourist attractions.
We call on candidates for the Welsh Assembly Government election in 2016 to commit themselves to the following action points—
1 Resources to sustain common land, town and village greens, open spaces, public paths, walking, horse-riding and cycling as vital to the health and well-being of Wales and its people.
2 Full recognition and protection of urban back-lanes and alleyways, tracks and open space as assets for town and city-dwellers.
3 Implementation of the Commons Act 2006 without delay, providing for updating of the common-land registers and the formation of commons councils, to assist landowners, commoners and the public.
4 Public maps showing farms in the Glastir scheme; use of Glastir to secure better management of common land, and strict enforcement of conditions which require public paths to be kept clear of obstruction.
5 A duty on local authorities to take action against unlawful works on common land.
6 Speed limit of 20mph on all unfenced roads across common land, to safeguard stock, the landscape and public access.
7 A right for the public to ride horses on all commons.
8 A requirement for common land and town and village greens within or adjacent to proposed development to be a material planning-consideration.
9 A right of appeal, and a requirement to provide suitable alternative land, before public open space is taken for another purpose.
10 Communities empowered to register local open spaces as community assets to secure their long-term protection.
11 Greater rights of public access to land—but with no downgrading of the status, protection and recognition of public paths.
12 All public paths in Wales recorded, open and easy to use, with all public highways included on the definitive map of rights of way. Revocation of the law which will, on 1 January 2026, close definitive maps to claims based on historic evidence.
Download a copy of our action plan in English and Welsh here.