Harrogate Stray to be brought into the fold

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We have applied to North Yorkshire County Council to register Harrogate Stray as common land.

We are hopeful that Harrogate Stray, in North Yorkshire, will be registered as common land. Photo: Open Spaces Society

The application, which was made on 19 January 2023, seeks to reverse the decision in November 1966 to exclude the Stray from registration under the Commons Registration Act 1965.

Says one of our case officers, Hugh Craddock: ‘The decision in the 1960s to keep the Stray off the registers was understandable but misguided.  Only a quarter of one per cent of registered common land was exempted from registration, and exemption proved to be both misleading and unhelpful.  The Stray has always been common land, and ought to be registered as common land.’

Frances Kerner, our commons re-registration officer who made the application, added: ‘Registration can only reinforce the protection already afforded to the Stray under the Harrogate Stray Act 1985.  The land will also become protected under the Commons Act 2006.  And registration will ensure that those who buy and sell land adjacent to the common are always notified of its protected status.’

Frances concluded: ‘We look forward to the council advertising the application in due course.’


  1. The application to register Harrogate Stray as common land was made under paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to the Commons Act 2006. This enables applications (only at present in England in North Yorkshire and Cumbria) to register where, inter alia, land is ‘regulated as common land under a local or personal Act’.  The Explanatory Notes to the 2006 Act expressly recognise the opportunity to register commons (such as the Stray) exempted by order (para.117 and Annexe B).
  2. The Stray was preserved from inclosure under the Forest of Knaresborough (Yorkshire) Inclosure Act 1770. The management of the Stray, along with the sole right of pasturage, was vested in the then Harrogate corporation (now Harrogate borough council) under the Harrogate Corporation Act 1893, and these arrangements were continued by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985.
  3. There are various inconsistencies in the area of the Stray defined by the 1770, 1893 and 1985 Acts, and the area excluded under the 1965 Act. The application seeks to resolve these inconsistencies as far as possible.
  4. The society’s research enabling the registration of common land is generously funded by the Jack and Irene Candy Bequest.

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