Commons

The Open Spaces Society is the guardian of all commons in England and Wales.
We’re here for all commons and for the people like you who want to enjoy them.

Saving our commons

The Open Spaces Society is the guardian of all commons in England and Wales.

Such is the recognition of our role, we are notified of all applications for works on, and exchanges of, common land.

One of the most famous commons we’ve ever saved is Wimbledon Common, but we’re here for all commons and for the people like you who want to enjoy them.

The public has the right to walk on all registered commons, subject to certain restrictions, and on many commons there is also a right to ride.

Does your local common need protection?

Commons are very special because the land is unique. It is historical land, which has remained largely undisturbed through the centuries, a remnant of medieval times when people relied on commons for their survival.

It is land where the owners of nearby properties have rights to graze animals, collect wood and bracken or dig peat, for example. Those rights still exist, although are not exercised as they were in the past.

There are 1.3 million acres of common land in England and Wales, registered in over 9,000 separate units covering all types of landscape and habitat. A staggering 88 per cent of all commons in England have a national or international designation – for wildlife, landscape or archaeology.

Rydal Water, Cumbria

How can you protect your local commons?

An effective way to protect a common that matters to you is to join the Open Spaces Society. Here are some examples of cases where we have given guidance to individual, group and local authority members.

As a charity, we depend on public donations to fund our vital campaigning and legal work.

As a member, you can count on the support of our expert team based at our head office in Henley-on-Thames.

Depending on where you live, you may also have a local Open Spaces Society correspondent (our name for volunteer) who may be able to help you.

Our latest posts about commons

Kendal’s New Road Common Should Be Green Space Not Car Park

We have objected to plans to reinstate an unlawful car park on New Road Common, Kendal in Cumbria. Mr David Fone has applied to the Secretary of State for Environment, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, for consent for works on common land. Mr Fone is a private individual and the land is…
Read More

Dismay At Warcop Commons Recommendation

We are deeply dismayed by the inspector’s recommendation to deregister the extensive Warcop commons, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  This follows a public inquiry at which we appeared as an objector with legal representation.  The inspector recommends Cumbria County Council to approve the deregistration of most of Burton, Hilton and Murton…
Read More

We fight common-land swap at the Canyons

We have objected to an application from Peakman Ltd to remove part of Mynydd Llanhilleth Common from the common-land register. This popular common is near Abertillery in south Wales. As part of its plan to extract aggregates from the nearby quarry, Peakman wants to widen the existing Blaen y Cwm road and create parking bays.…
Read More

Fencing plan for Fylingdales Moor common

We have objected to a proposal to erect over five kilometres of fencing on Fylingdales Moor common in the North York Moors National Park. The application has been made by the Manor of Fyling Court Leet which wants to graze livestock there. Because the fencing is on common land, the applicant must obtain the consent…
Read More

Further resources about Commons

  • Commons Act

    The Commons Act 2006 is arranged in five parts: registration, management,  works, miscellaneous, finally supplementary and general.

  • Common land training course

    Our full-day training course will provides an introduction to commons and why they are important, including relevant legislation...

  • How to take action against unlawful encroachments and works

    This information sheet tells you how to protect your common from unlawful encroachments and works in England.

  • Buildings, fences and other works on common land in England

    A practical guide for those wishing to carry out a lawful operation on a common or to defend a common against unlawful or undesirable operations.

  • Vehicular access across Common Land and Town or Village Greens

    This provides guidance about vehicular access across common land and town or village greens following the repeal of section 68 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

  • Works on common land in Wales

    A practical guide for those wishing to carry out a lawful operation on a common and those who want to defend a common against unlawful or undesirable operations in Wales.

  • A Common Purpose Guide

    Download the Foundation for Common Land guidance on how to engage with local communities for those contemplating management on common land.

  • A commons’ conference companion

    The Countryside and Community Research Institute of Gloucester University (CCRI) has published a Commons e-book

  • DIY guide to registering lost commons

    The Commons Act 2006 provides a new, time-limited, opportunity for you to rescue some of those commons which failed to be registered under the Commons

  • Works on common land in England

    A practical guide for those wishing to carry out a lawful operation on a common and those who want to defend a common against unlawful or undesirable operations. 

  • Commons Act 2006 Part 1 Implementation

    A pioneer implementation of Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 commenced in seven registration authorities in England on 1 October 2008.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Commons

    Frequently asked questions about commons

  • Unclaimed land and adverse possession

    Unclaimed land and adverse possession: protecting commons and other open spaces with no known owner

  • Finding common ground

    Integrating local and national interests on commons: guidance for assessing the community value of common land