Our new drive to rescue lost commons

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We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?

We have launched a new drive to rescue common land which escaped registration 45 years ago.  We are advertising for a project officer to undertake research and submit applications for commons to be added to the registers.

Northam Burrows, Devon

Northam Burrows, Devon

The society was a leader in registering common land when it became possible to do so under the Commons Registration Act 1965.  But the Act only allowed three years for applications and, for many reasons, a large number of commons were not registered.  It has recently become possible to register some of those lost commons, but only in nine areas of England, for a limited period.*

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary ‘We hope that our new project officer will be able to identify many commons which should be registered.  There is a public right to walk on all commons and, if the common is in a former urban district, there is also a right to ride.

‘Moreover, commons are protected from encroachment and development because any works there require the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

‘We hope in time to be able to secure an increase in the area of common land available for public recreation.  And because there is potential for a new right to ride on the land, we shall work with the British Horse Society to identify the priorities for action.

‘It is thanks to generous legacies, left to us by our supporters, that we are able to invest in this important project,’ Kate concludes.

*           The areas of England where this can occur are: Blackburn with Darwen, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire and North Yorkshire.  In Cumbria and North Yorkshire the application must be made before 15 March 2027, and the other areas before 31 December 2020—only four years away.

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