Do you have a question about town and village greens?

Registration

    • How can I find out if my village green is registered?

The Register of Town and Village Greens is held by your local registration authority. In England, all unitary authorities and county councils are registration authorities. In Wales, all county/borough councils are registration authorities.

 

Protection

    • What protection does my registered village green have?

Village greens are protected from encroachment and development and by the Inclosure Act 1857 s12 and the Commons Act 1876 s29. The only development permitted is for the better enjoyment of the green for sports and pastimes. Find out more here.

    • Does ownership of the village green affect its status? What happens if the village green is sold?

The status of the village green is distinct from its ownership. The village green is protected in perpetuity and local people will have a legal right to use the land for lawful sports and pastimes. If sold the land will retain its protection as a village green.

    • How can I protect my village green if it is not registered?

If you can prove that local people have used the land without secrecy, force or permission for at least 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes, you can apply to register the land as new green. This will protect it from development for ever and pre-serve it for use by local people. Click on these links for further reading about the evidence approach and the voluntary approach.

Widmer Fields, at Hazelmere in Buckinghamshire, a 42-acre new village green

    • What is a landowner statement and what can I do about it?

Since October 2013 landowners have been able to submit to their registration authority a statement and map which challenge people’s informal use of land.
Once a statement has been deposited and notices posted on the site, local people have only one year in which to submit a village green application.
Contact your county or unitary council’s commons registration and ask to be notified of any landowner statements made under section 15A of the Commons Act 2006.
These maybe combined with landowner declarations under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. Click on these links for further reading about landowner statements in England and for landowner statements in Wales.

 

Encroachment

    • What do I do if someone encroaches on or builds on a village green?

If you wish to prosecute someone for a criminal offence on a village green, an information must be laid before the local magistrates’ court by an inhabitant of the parish. This Defra document and our page on prosecuting an offence may be useful.

    • What rights do I have to park/drive on a village green?

Please refer to our factsheet here re: Vehicular access across Common Land and Town or Village Greens

    • Can I erect signs on a Village Green?

Only the owner or, if the management of the land is vested in another body, the managing body, has a power to erect signs on the green.

Village green at Penpedairheol, Caerphilly. Photo: Steve Morgan

    • Can utilities companies undertake works on Village Greens?

Acts of Parliament have given many bodies compulsory powers to acquire land or rights over or under land, for purposes considered to be in the public interest, including utility companies and communications organisations.

Enjoyment

    • Can I erect goalposts/seats/children’s playground/skatepark/clubhouse? Can I mow the grass/trim hedges/chop trees ?

The owner’s consent must be sought before any work is done on a village green. An offence under the legislation is only committed where the encroachment/activity is made “otherwise than with a view to the better enjoyment of the green”. In general the provision of facilities to assist in the enjoyment of recreation such as goal posts, children’s playground, seats etc, would not be a breach of the protective legislation.

If the trees affect use of the green by local people for lawful sports and pastimes then this would be a breach. Similarly, some planting may be acceptable but not the whole of the area as that would interfere with local people’s use of the green. This Defra document may be useful.

    • Can commercial enterprises take place on a village green? eg football/cricket/golf clubs; festivals

It may be possible in limited circumstances if it does not interfere with the rights of local people to use the land for lawful sports and pastimes. This Defra document may be useful.

A note about maps and applications

        • What sort of map is required and where can I obtain one?

The accompanying map must be at least at a scale of 1:2500 and show the land by distinctive colouring so it can be clearly identified. OS partners (map shops) charge their own rate for maps. Some registration authorities accept Land Registry title maps which can be downloaded as an A4 sheet. Local map shops may have maps at the right scale that are out of copyright and therefore available more cheaply.

Example historical map for Batchworth Heath

Copying under the principles of Fair Dealing

You can make copies of Ordnance Survey mapping in accordance with the principles of fair dealing as set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This entitles you to make copies of OS mapping for the purpose of criticism, review, news reporting and research for a non-commercial purpose. If you make a copy for any of these purposes you must, where possible, provide an acknowledgement in the following form:
Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.

 

Further resources about town and village greens

  • Protecting commons, greens and open spaces training course

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Registration

    A quick guide to the registration process.

  • 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.

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