Land at Hatfield House restored as common

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We are celebrating the decision of Hertfordshire County Council, the commons registration authority, to grant the society’s application to register as common land 1.8 hectares on the south side of Wildhill Road, Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The land comprises a mixture of grass, shrub, and trees. It is just under six kilometres south-east of Hatfield House which is the seat of the Marquess of Salisbury, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil.

Photo of Wildhill Road registered common, looking west. Photo: Open Spaces Society

In 1969, the land was provisionally registered as common but, following an objection, the provisional registration was cancelled. It then was too late to register the land under the Commons Registration Act 1965.

However, the Commons Act 2006 reopened the opportunity to rescue lost commons. Under paragraph 4 of schedule 2 to the Commons Act 2006 the excluded land became eligible for re-registration. The application, made by the society, to register the land duly provided evidence that the excluded land is waste land of a manor, which means that it can be registered as common land.

The landowner, the Marquess of Salisbury, opposed the application, but the objection was not upheld. The land has now been added to the common-land register, and the public will have the right to walk there.

Says Frances Kerner, our commons re-registration officer: ‘Ironically, the Marquess recently hosted “Future Countryside”, an important conference tasked with discussing the many challenges faced by people who live in, work in, and visit the countryside. Disappointingly, the society was not invited to the conference, but we hope that any future events held by the organisation will include the society and others who champion access to our splendid countryside.’

She adds, ‘I am delighted that the land at Wildhill Road has been added to the register of common land and that the public will be able to enjoy its beauty.’

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