Land at Nesfield, North Yorkshire, restored as common 

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We have welcomed the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to grant the society’s application to register as common approximately one third of a hectare of land in the village of Nesfield in North Yorkshire (just over two miles north-west of Ilkley).  The land comprises two pieces of grassland separated by a path which leads from Gill Lane to a road to the north. 

Photo of the newly-registered land. Photo: Colin Speakman.

In 1968, an application was made to register as common several pieces of land in the village of Nesfield, but two pieces separated by a path were subject to an objection. The application was referred to a hearing held by a commons commissioner who agreed the registration of all the land except the two pieces separated by a path.  The commissioner refused to register them because they were no longer part of the manor of Nesfield with Langbar, having been sold off by the lord of the manor in 1891. In making his decision the commissioner cited the Box Hill Case which was overturned in 1990[1] .  The effect of the Box Hill case was that applications for the registration of common land failed if the land was not still owned by the lord of the manor. 

However, part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 reopened the opportunity to rescue lost commons which were excluded in these circumstances[2] .  Under paragraph 4 of schedule 2 to the 2006 act the land became eligible for re-registration.  The application made by the society drew on the evidence provided at the hearing that the land was manorial, which means that it can be registered as common land. 

Says Frances Kerner, our commons re-registration officer: ‘It is very pleasing that the mistake that was made all those years ago has been rectified and that the land is now protected for the benefit of the public’. 

[1] Box Parish Council v Lacey [1979] 1 All ER 113, [1980] Ch 109, [1979] 2 WLR 177, CA; Hampshire County Council v Milburn [1990] 2 All ER 257.

[2] Part 1 of the 2006 Act has been brought into force in nine pioneer areas in England, enabling the registration of lost commons in certain circumstances.  The deadline has now passed for applications in seven of them. Applications can be made in North Yorkshire and Cumbria until 15 March 2027.

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