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Town & Village Greens

Chambers continues to feature as a leading set for real estate disputes on the Western Circuit. 'The set has high-quality members who are very easy to get on with and the work is of a high standard.' "

Chambers UK  2020
Real Estate

Barristers within our Real Estate team enjoy an enviable reputation for their legal expertise regarding town and village greens. Leading silk Leslie Blohm QC is a rural expert with a renowned specialism in village green applications and he sits as an inspector in town and village green inquiries.

We have barristers at all levels of seniority who are skilled in dealing with this unusual jurisdiction. We provide an comprehensive legal service, throughout the UK, on behalf of objector landlords (both local authorities and private), applicants and Registration Authorities. We advise on common land rights, registering town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006, public rights of way and statutory appeals, including appearing at associated inquiries.

Applications to register land as Town or Village Greens 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 can 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 and 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.

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 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 rights of way 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 who deal with Town and Village Green applications are well used to and experienced in dealing with footpath and other PROW applications and have dealt with a number of major applications.

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.

Mediation

We are committed to alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, with a number of our barristers being qualified mediators. Our facilities are specifically designed to meet with clients’ needs for a mediation venue. Read more.

Public Access

Some members of the team are also available to act, where appropriate, for members of the public, as well as commercial and non-commercial organisations, under the Public Access scheme. Read more.

Training

The team delivers workshops and seminars in Chambers and regional centres. We also provide training on behalf of local Law Societies and in conjunction with solicitors’ firms. In addition we can give tailored in-house training for particular firms. If you would like any further information please contact Elizabeth Champion on 0117 923 4714 or email: elizabeth.champion@stjohnschambers.co.uk.