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.

Read about our campaigning work for town and village greens here.

Further resources about Village Greens

  • A charter for England's open spaces

    Read our August 2020 charter for the promotion and protection of open spaces so that everyone in England can benefit.

  • Protecting village greens

    Law guiding the protection of Village Greens

  • 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.

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

    Now you must apply to register land as a green in Wales within two years of a landowner’s challenge to your use of the land for informal recreation

  • Getting Greens Registered

    Download our Getting Greens Registered PDF - a step-by-step guide on how to go about applying for Village Green registration.

  • Recent registrations

    A list of successful green registrations

  • Public inquiry guidance

    Our former Vice-president, Edgar Powell wrote this guidance on preparing for and attending a public inquiry.

  • Court cases on town & village greens

    We publish a commentary about most decisions in the courts about town or village green registration cases. You can find a list of these cases here together with a hyperlink to our commentary or (where there is none) to a report of the case on the website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Village & Town Greens

    Common questions about village and town greens

  • How to register a town or village green

    A walk-through of the process to register land as a town or village green in England or Wales. 

  • 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. 

  • Management and protection of town and village greens

    DEFRA have compiled some answers to FAQ that cover the management and protection of greens once they are registered.

  • 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.

  • Protecting commons, greens and open spaces training course

    Learn the fundamentals on this comprehensive course to include definitions, registration/designation, protection and management.

  • Vehicular access across Common Land and Town or Village Greens

    This provides Defra 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...

Village Greens: Latest Posts

Our new guide to saving green spaces

We have published a new edition of Getting Greens Registered, our step-by-step guide to registering land in England and Wales as a town or village green. Once registered, the land is protected from development and encroachment, and local people have rights of recreation there. The new (fourth) edition explains how local people must gather evidence…

New green secured voluntarily in Dartmouth, Devon

We are delighted that the historic community-orchard in Dartmouth, Devon, is now officially a village green.  On 2 February, the society joined an event organised by the Friends of Dartmouth Community Orchard and Dartmouth Town Council to unveil the plaque marking this achievement. Now that the orchard is registered as a green with Devon County…
Queen's Crescent LGS, Exeter

Vital piece missing from ‘levelling-up’ jigsaw

We have criticised today’s announcement on levelling up as a missed chance to rectify the gross inequality of access to local spaces. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, has unveiled his ‘levelling-up plan’ without a mention of the importance of local green spaces.  Yet these, which have always been…

Our justice system undermined

Over the last 157 years, the Open Spaces Society has taken pride in successfully using the courts to rectify wrongs affecting commons, greens, other open spaces, and public paths. We also back our members in their legal actions. Now, the Westminster government’s Judicial Review and Courts Bill is set to have a profoundly detrimental effect…
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