Village Greens

Story-book images of village greens are the essence of rural England and Wales.
In reality they are very varied and in need of our protection.

Town and village greens are the essence of rural England and Wales.

Story-book images of village greens tend to be of an expanse of grass in the centre of a village complete with oak tree and seat, or a carefully-manicured recreation ground just outside the village, where cricket is played in the lengthening shadows of a summer evening, and the villagers dance round the maypole.

In fact, they are much more than that, and very varied.

Did you know?

The best way to protect your village/town green is to register it. Registering it gives it protection.

Don't take it for granted.

What is a village green?

A green is any land on which a significant number of inhabitants of any area has indulged in lawful sports and pastimes, for 20 years, as of right.

We believe there to be about 3650 registered greens in England and about 220 in Wales, covering about 8150 and 620 acres respectively.

Want to protect your village green?

Join the Open Spaces Society, and benefit from our expert advice. Here are some examples of cases where we have given guidance to individual, group and local authority members. 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.

Village Greens: Latest Posts

Missed opportunity to protect open spaces in Wales

We have responded to the Welsh government’s consultation on its National Development Framework (NDF) and raised concerns about the impact on the landscape and tourism, and the missed opportunities for protecting open space. The NDF is a new development plan which will set the direction for development in Wales from 2020 to 2040.  It contains…

The Ethical Gift

Would you like to find a present for outdoorsy friends or family with a conscience? Ethical and environmentally friendly gifts are increasingly popular and rightly so. The Open Spaces Society is a small charity that fights to conserve and promote our environment by seeking protection for paths and open spaces, so that everyone can enjoy…

Our case officer Nicola Hodgson celebrates 20 years with Open Spaces Society

In 1999, solicitor Nicola Hodgson was instructed by Sunningwell Parish Council, in Oxfordshire, to register a piece of land as a village green – thereby preventing two new houses being built on the site which had, for decades, been popular with families and dog walkers. The case went to the House of Lords, resulting in…

Bullies beware!

Through our 154-year history, the Open Spaces Society has developed a proud record of legal action. We fought the enclosures, and defended commoners’ rights; we have tested the law in the courts many times. We have suffered losses, but we also have landmark victories to our name. One such victory was our challenge to Dorset…

Further resources about Village Greens

  • Protecting village greens

    Law guiding the protection of Village Greens

  • Getting Greens Registered

    We published a revised third edition of our book Getting Greens Registered in response to the major changes in legislation

  • Landowner statements: the threat to village greens (England)

    Now you must apply to register land as a green within one year of a landowner’s challenge to your use of the land for informal recreation.

  • Guidance on making a successful green application

    These guidance notes have kindly been prepared by The Friends of Coombe Wood, who successfully registered a green in 2013:

  • Recent registrations

    A list of successful green registrations

  • Public inquiry guidance

    Our Vice-president, Edgar Powell, has prepared guidance on preparing for and attending a public inquiry.

  • By-laws for village greens, commons and open spaces

    By-laws are rules made by a local authority or certain other public bodies under an enabling Act of Parliament, for the regulation, administration or management of a specific area.

  • Registration

    A quick guide to registration

  • Voluntary registration/dedication of land as a town or village green

    Dedicate land voluntarily as a town or village green by applying to have it included in the register of town or village greens. 

  • Beating the bounds of your green or common

    Parish and community councils and other local groups may like to beat the bounds of their local common or village green on Rogation Sunday.

  • Village green training course

    Our training course provides an introduction to village greens and why they are important, including relevant legislation...

  • 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.

  • Prosecuting an offence on a village green

    If you wish to prosecute someone for a criminal offence on a town or village green...

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Village & Town Greens

    Common questions about village and town greens

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