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Government’s Plans for Village Greens a kick in the teeth for localism

November 3, 2012


Please note that the Bill is now due for its second reading on Monday 5 November


The government’s plans for town and village greens,(1) in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, are ‘a kick in the teeth for localism’.

So says the Open Spaces Society, (2) which is calling on Members of Parliament to speak against clause 13 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill which is due for second reading in the House of Commons on Monday (5 November).

Explains Kate Ashbrook, the society’s general secretary: ‘The clause is an oppressive measure which will make it difficult, if not downright impossible, to register land as a town or village green once it has been identified for development—even if that identification is a well-kept secret.

‘The government wants to stop so-called “vexatious” applications to register greens which, it claims, are being submitted solely to thwart development.  In fact few applications are purely vexatious and the clause has the effect of killing genuine applications too.

‘The Bill says that a “trigger event”—which includes first publication of a planning application or identification of the land for potential development in a local or neighbourhood plan—puts an immediate stop on any new application to register the land as a green.  The trigger event may not even be public. 

‘Furthermore, as soon as this part of the Act takes effect, no application to register land as a green can be made for land already subject to a trigger event unless the greens application has already been submitted.

‘So the rug is being pulled from under us without giving us a chance to save our spaces.

‘Village and town greens are not only the old-fashioned sort with a duck pond and a cricket square.  The ones which communities claim today are likely to be pieces of overlooked or marginal land which have been used by local people for recreation─for walking the dog, kicking a ball about or picking blackberries, for instance.  They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are pretty, many are plain though useful.  But they are loved and enjoyed by their communities. [For examples, see below.]

‘The government’s proposals will put an instant end to the ability of local people to protect their much-loved spaces.  This is a developers’ charter,’ Kate concludes.


Examples of much-loved land which has been registered as a town or village green, but which might well not have been registered if the Growth and Infrastructure Bill had been passed.

Barnsley, Cadwell, Cudworth (2009)

Bristol, Whitchurch Green (2011)

Bucks, Pimms Close, High Wycombe (2006)

Calderdale, Crowtrees Lane, Rastrick (2009)

Cheshire West and Chester, Land at Flashes Lane, Ness (2011)

Devon, Sugary Green, Dartmouth (2011)

Devon, Lower Park, Palk Close, Shaldon (2011)

East Sussex, Herbrand Walk, Bexhill-on-Sea (2011)

Essex, Brighton Road, Clacton-on-Sea (2012)

Essex, Eastleigh Park, Basildon (2009)

Gloucestershire, Bredon Road, Tewkesbury (2008)

Hampshire, Mengham Park, Hayling Island (2009)

Hertfordshire, Waterside at St Albans (2012)

Hertfordshire, Woodcock Road, Borehamwood (2008)

Leeds, Yeadon Banks (2012)

Lincolnshire, Earlsfield Estate, Grantham (2008)

London Borough of Southwark, King’s Stairs Garden (2011)

Newcastle upon Tyne, Chadderton Field (2011)

Northamptonshire, Oundle Road, Weldon (2012)

Northumberland, The Old School Field, Haltwhistle (2011)

North Yorkshire, land at Conistone village, Grassington (2010)

Oxfordshire, Trap Grounds, Oxford (2005)

Oxfordshire, Warneford Meadow, Oxford (2010)

Redcar and Cleveland, Coatham Common (2010)

Shropshire, Church Bridge Field, Dorrington (2012)

Shropshire, land at Oswestry (2008)

South Gloucestershire, The Green, Pucklechurch (2012)

Staffordshire, Newpool Meadows, Knypersley (2009)

Surrey, The Dell, Fetcham (2011)

Surrey, Windmill Drive, Leatherhead (2009)

Torbay, Wishing Fields, Brixham (2010)

Wakefield, The Old Colliery Site, Newmillerdam (2009)

West Sussex, Greensward, Goring (2009)

West Sussex, Ramsey Close, Horsham (2009)

Windsor and Maidenhead, The Kayles, Wraysbury (2011)

Worcestershire, Austin Rise, Lickey Hills (2011)


Notes for editors

1.         Land can be registered as a town or village green if it has been used by local people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ (ie informal recreation) for 20 years freely and openly.

2.         The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.

CONTACT:          Kate Ashbrook      

Kate Ashbrook

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

25A Bell Street

Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA



The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).


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