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143 LEGAL CORNER


By Simon Wilson, Commercial Property and Planning Partner at Wollen Michelmore


Town & village Greens – the nimby ‘nuclear weapon’ disarmed?


W


e can all recognise a traditional village green with grazing ponies, games of cricket and May Day celebrations but over the last decade or


so, it has been easier to register any undeveloped land as a Town and Village Green if it can be established that “a significant number of inhabitants of any locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years” (Section 15, Commons Act 2006). “As of right” means without force, secrecy or permission by local inhabitants in general rather than a few individuals.


This has led to registration of land


as a Green that is very different from the concept of a traditional village green, often done to thwart development on that land, even in cases where the recreational use had ceased for up to 5 years beforehand.


It is a criminal offence to interrupt that use or


enjoyment of a town and village green by enclosing or building on it, or even driving over it, without lawful authority. This led to considerable uncertainty when buying land for potential development.


However, following concerns that this was being used


to undermine the planning process by preventing or delaying development, the pendulum is now swinging the other way. Under the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, it is now more difficult to register land in England as a town and village green. More particularly: -


• The period of grace to make an application for


registration, after the recreational use has stopped, is now only 1 year.


• The new act introduces certain trigger events relating


to past, present or future development of land occurring (such as Planning Applications or draft Local Plans identifying land for potential development).


• Landowners can now deposit a Landowner


Statement and Map to bring an end to any period of recreational use “as of right”.


This now prevents registration of a green which has Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (No.565599) Relax... Offi ces at


Dartmouth 01803 832191 Torquay


whilst we take the stress out of the situation


01803 213251 Newton Abbot 01626 332266


already been identified for potential development.


It is now more difficult to register land in England as a Town and Village Green.


However, if the “trigger event” does not happen (say, if the Planning Consent is refused) it is terminated and the land could then be subject to an application for registration as a village green provided the 20 years “as of right use” has continued. The period of grace will pause whilst the trigger event is in place.


Whilst the new rules are fairly


technical, this has led to a greater degree of certainty in this area.


If you would like to discuss this article or any other property


matter further then please contact


Simon Wilson on 01803 832191 or email: simon.wilson@wollenmichelmore.co.uk


Wollen Michelmore SOLICITORS


The Devon Law People for People in Devon www.wollenmichelmore.co.uk


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