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

Archive progress

The Special Collections team at the University of Reading and the Museum of English Rural Life (the MERL) has been working with the society to care for, and to open, our archive to the public and to potential researchers. The completed cataloguing work, and the collected oral histories of key staff members, will reveal our…

Kent parish council dedicates a green

We have commended our member East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council in Kent for dedicating land as a village green.  Kent County Council approved the registration in February.   The one-acre land is known as Whimbrel Village Green and is an area of open space within a housing estate (the streets of which are named…

How do we protect open spaces closer to home?

The think tank, ‘Centre for Cities’, which focuses on improving the economies of the UK’s largest cities and towns, published an article at the start of our lock down period, ‘How easy is it for people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic?‘  It concluded that the provision of public open space, such as…

The rise and fall of village greens

The Supreme Court has dealt a bitter blow to communities wanting to protect their open spaces. As a result of a judgment last December concerning two green spaces, in Lancashire and Surrey, it has become much more difficult to protect land and assert rights of recreation on it. Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, follows the…

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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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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