Commons Cases

The society was founded  as The Commons Preservation Society to protect the public and commoners’ interests in the preservation of common land in England and Wales.  We still have much to do over 150 years later in offering support and assistance to members in addition to our work in opposing inappropriate commons consents such as section 38 applications and deregistration

Sheepscombe Common, Glos, registered by the society

We have recently assisted members of the society with the following cases:

  • Advising a parish council about an existing agricultural access over a common which a developer wished to use for the purposes of access to a new house.  We helped the council to identify whether there was an existing private right of way over the common, and whether it could be used to facilitate access for a different purpose.
  • Helping a town council with its wish to grant new rights of access over the common, which it owned, to a resident adjacent to the common.  We explained the implications of the land’s status as common land, and as open space, and the constraints on the disposal of an interest in land by a local authority.
  • Working with a district council to understand its duties and powers to manage common land in its area, under schemes of regulation and management made under Part I of the Commons Act 1899.  For example, we were able to provide guidance on the rights of a third party to drive over the common, and the respective rights of the landowner, the council and the third party to maintain and improve the track across the common.
  • Advising a parish council about the responsibility for maintaining an unsurfaced access drive over a common owned by a local authority — in this case, the council was unlikely to have any obligations, and was entitled to insist that residents kept to the existing width of the drive notwithstanding the poor repair.
  • Advising a member about riding on a common: a byelaw appeared to exclude riding, but we said that there was a right of access on horseback for air and exercise, and that the byelaw did not bite on recreational riding.

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