Town & Village Greens

Our team has a depth of experience and knowledge when it comes to applications to register land as a Town or Village Green.

Leading silk Leslie Blohm QC, is a rural expert with renowned specialism in village green applications and he sits as an inspector in town and village green inquiries. This makes us well placed to advise landowners, registration authorities and applicants.

Applications to register land as Town or Village Greens[1] have mushroomed in the last ten years, in part because registration is now known to be a practical way of preventing proposed or anticipated development of local land. For local residents this may be a Godsend. For developers it is an expensive obstruction to progress and profit. For local authorities who have to make the decision, it is a real problem. Do we all know what a Town or Village Green is? Most of us may think we know one when we see one, but the legal definition means that it need not be within a Town or a Village, and it does not even have to be green. The law that permits registration is not straightforward, and has had to be considered by the House of Lords or the Supreme Court on four occasions since 1999. Such is its technicality, that for all parties involved in such disputes, good legal representation and advice can make the difference between success and failure, and between the preservation of land in its current state, or its provision for development. Applications for registration are made to the local Registration Authority, who may well hold an inquiry to decide whether the land should be registered. If the Registration Authority makes a mistake, then the parties can take the case to Court by way of appeal, or judicial review.

Members of the team include a number of barristers, at all levels of seniority, who have experience and are skilled in dealing with this unusual jurisdiction. They have represented residents making the application; landowners or developers who wish to resist it; have acted as inspectors on behalf of Registration Authorities, and have dealt with appeals from decisions of Registration Authorities.

Public Rights of Way

Public Rights of Way (‘PROW’) are often linked with Town and Village Greens because there are similarities in the law and there may be also an overlap when rights of way issues are raised in Town and Village Green applications –  for example, in the ‘Trap Ground’ application[2] and in a recent application to Bristol City Council it was suggested that the exercise of rights had been in connection with footpaths and not a Town and Village Green.

Whether as footpaths, bridleways or any other form of PROW applications are frequently controversial – not least because, from the landowner’s point of view, they may result in a dramatic drop in value of the land. For environmental or walking groups the right to use ways is an important aspect of access to the countryside, just as is the right to roam under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Our members dealing with Town and Village Green applications are well used and experience in dealing with footpath and other PROW applications and have dealt with a number of major applications.

Our team regularly delivers lectures to solicitors and other professionals on recent developments in the law and practice. If you are interested in arranging a lecture then please contact our clerks.

[1] Under the Commons Act 2006, section 15, replacing the Commons Registration Act 1965.

[2] Oxfordshire County Council  v. Oxford City Council [2005] UKHL 25