We publish a commentary for most decisions in the courts about town or village green registration cases. You can find a list of these cases below, together with a link to our commentary or to a report of the case on the website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute where available.
2017 to date
Woodcock Hill village green
R (on the application of Patricia Strack on behalf of Woodcock Hill Village Green Committee) (Claimant) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Laing Homes, and Hertsmere Borough Council (Defendant and interested parties)
Key issues: The high court judge, Mr Justice Lane, dismissed an application for judicial review of the decision of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to allow the deregistration and exchange of part of Woodcock Hill village green under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006 (the 2006 act). The judge considered that the inspector had not erred in law.
Bellway Homes and Kent County Council (high court)
R (on the Application of Bellway Homes Ltd) v Kent County Council
Key issues: This case was a challenge by way of judicial review to a finding by Kent County Council (KCC) that a ‘trigger event’ had not occurred so as to prevent an application to register land as a town or village green (TVG) under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 (‘the 2006 act’).
Allen’s Quay, Mistley
T W Logistics Ltd v Essex County Council and Tucker
Key issues: Whether part of the working port of Mistley had been properly registered as a town or village green and whether use of quay by trucks etc would preclude registration if such use became illegal following registration.
Moorside Fields and Leach Grove Wood
R (on the application of Lancashire County Council) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs conjoined with R (on the application of NHS Property Services Ltd) v Surrey County Council
Key issues: The circumstances in which the concept of “statutory incompatibility” will defeat an application to register land as a town or village green where the land is held by a public authority for statutory purposes.
Leach Grove Wood, Leatherhead
R (on the application of NHS Property Services Ltd) v Surrey County Council and Jones
Key issues: Registration of land held by public body other than for public recreation (statutory incompatibility); whether council could depart from inspector’s conclusion on test of neighbourhood within a locality.
Moorside Fields, Lancaster
Lancashire County Council v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Bebbington
Key issues: Registration of land held by local authority and annexed to school: whether evidence held for education purposes; whether registration of education authority land incompatible with statutory purposes; definition of locality; whether residence of users must be distributed across locality (‘spread’).
Vowley View, Royal Wootton Bassett
Wiltshire Council v Cooper Estates Strategic Land Ltd and Gosnell and Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council
Key issues: Key policies in an adopted core strategy identified land for ‘potential development’, meaning a trigger event had occurred which precluded registration as a town or village green.
Meadow Triangle, Cambridge
R (on the application of St John’s College) v Cambridgeshire County Council and Davies
Key issues: The initial role of the commons registration authority on a s15 application to register a town or village green is to decide whether the application is duly made and therefore procedurally compliant with the regulatory requirements. The government’s guidance on these aspects was criticised (and redrafted in the judgment).
Humpty Hill, Faringdon
R (on the application of Alloway and Pocock) v Oxfordshire County Council and Stewart
Key issues: The High Court upholds the registration of land in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, as a town green, dismissing the challenge that the inspector had wrongly assessed use of paths around the edge of the land as nevertheless contributing to overall use of the land as a green, and rejecting, once again, the argument that the origin of users must be spread across the whole locality.
West Beach, Newhaven
Newhaven Port & Properties Ltd v East Sussex County Council, Newhaven Town Council and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Court of Appeal 2013 (human rights compatibility)
Key issues: The role of a statutory port authority and its powers to make byelaws were incompatible with the registration of the land as a town or village green.
Helredale playing field
R (on the application of Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council and Barkas
Key issues: Registration of land owned by local authority; land held in trust for recreation; implied licence or permission to use land; Beresford overturned.
Clayton Fields, Edgerton
Adamson v Paddico (267) Ltd, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, Magee and Hardy
Key issues: The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against the High Court’s decision, in June 2011, to reverse the registration of land as a town or village green. The Court of Appeal held that land should not have been registered because the inhabitants did not come from a single locality and confirmed that there was no alternative locality on which the application could have been based. However, it held that rectification of the register was not just and fair because the landowner had taken nearly 13 years to apply for rectification.
Markham and Little Francis Fields
Taylor (on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Markham and Little Francis) v Betterment Properties (Weymouth) Ltd and Dorset County Council
Key issues: The Court of Appeal held that the 46 acres of land at Markham and Little Francis, Weymouth in Dorset, should not have been registered as a village green under s22(1) of the Commons Registration Act 1965 and that it was just to rectify the register under s14 of that Act. The court considered whether use of the land was ‘as of right’ and whether it was just to rectify the register. The court held that delay between the registration of the land and the application to rectify the register (9 years) could be a factor but it was not held to be here, and it was just to remove the land from the register.
Bushfield Camp, Winchester
Merton Green, Caerwent
BDW Trading Ltd (t/a Barratt Homes) v Spooner (representing the Merton Green Action Group) and Melin Homes Ltd
Key issues: Village green rights can be overridden by rights of development in certain circumstances, so that the protective provisions of section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and 29 of the Commons Act 1876 do not apply to the land. The circumstances are that the land has been appropriated by a local authority under section 122 of the Local Government Act 1972 for planning purposes, notwithstanding that it is a common or village green.
Yeadon Banks, Leeds
Leeds Group plc v Leeds City Council
Court of Appeal 2011 (retrospective effect, human rights compatibility)
Key issues: In December 2010 Leeds Group, which owns 2.2 hectares known as Yeadon Banks, lost its claim in the Court of Appeal that Leeds City Council was wrong to register the land as a town green. However, the group was given permission to bring a second challenge in the Appeal Court on the grounds that the new definition of town and village greens, introduced by section 98 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the 2000 act), is in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 because of its retrospective effect in this and other cases. The appeal was rejected.
Coatham Common, Redcar
R (on the application of Lewis) v Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Persimmon Homes plc
Key issues: The Supreme Court has ruled that Coatham Common, Redcar is to be registered as a village green. The judgment was that ‘deference’ by local people to the landowner’s use of the land did not prevent their recreational use being as of right.
Trap Grounds, Oxford
Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council and Robinson
Key issues: Whether registration of land as a green, based on 20 years lawful sports and pastimes, gives the relevant inhabitants rights to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes on the land, and whether registration brings the land within the scope of section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876, which protect the land from encroachment. A further issue was whether a claim may be founded on qualifying user for any period of 20 years, or whether the lawful sports and pastimes must continue up to the date of the application to register, the date of
registration or some other date.
Sports Arena, Washington
R v City of Sunderland ex parte Beresford
Key issues: This case considered the meaning of the phrase ‘as of right’. The encouragement of the use of the land by the provision of benches and regular cutting of the grass reinforced, rather than undermined, the impression that local people were using the area ‘as of right’. [Partly overturned by the Supreme Court in the Helredale playing field case 2014]
Widmer Farm, Hazlemere
R (on the application of Laing Homes Ltd) v Buckinghamshire County Council and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Key issues: Laing Homes, which had bought the land in 1963 with a view to developing it for housing, applied to the court to quash Buckinghamshire County Council's decision to register the land on a number of grounds.
Ladydale Meadow, Leek
R (on the application of Alfred McAlpine Homes Ltd) v Staffordshire County Council
High Court 2003
Key issues: The judgement ruled that a registration authority could register a part of the land for which an application was made, and that ‘significant’ is a matter of impression after analysing the evidence. What matters is that the number of people using the land is sufficient to indicate that it is in general used by the inhabitants of any locality or neighbourhood within a locality.
The Glebe, Sunningwell
R v Oxfordshire County Council and others, ex parte Sunningwell Parish Council
Key issues: The judgment significantly changes the criteria by which registration authorities are required to determine applications to register town or village greens and defines ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ and ‘as of right’.