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Time is running out for village greens

March 11, 2013







‘Time is running out for our town and village greens.’  So says the Open Spaces Society(1) the greens champion, as the House of Lords is set to debate on Tuesday (12 March) the threat to greens posed by the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.

The bill has reached report stage and the Open Spaces Society is urging members of the House of Lords to support amendments which will prevent the government from emasculating the process for registering land as town or village greens.(2)

Land can be registered as a town or village green if local people have used it for informal recreation, without being stopped or asking permission, for at least 20 years.  Once registered, the land is protected from development.

Explains the society’s general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘This appears to be our last chance to save the right of local people to secure their precious spaces.  The government claims, with little evidence, that greens registration is stopping and delaying development.  Clause 14 of the Growth Bill says that once land has been earmarked for development, even if that has been done in secret, it cannot be registered as a green.

‘Lord Greaves has tabled amendments to mitigate the effect of the government’s proposals and at least give local people a chance to register their greens before the guillotine comes down.

‘Otherwise it will be grossly unfair for local people who will not know that the land they love is threatened until it is too late to save it.

‘It is also an attack the age-old law of custom and practice, whereby if someone has enjoyed informal recreation on an area of land for 20 years he or she can apply for that activity to be recognised as a right for local people.

‘There are many greens which have been registered in the last few years which were under threat and whose registration would be outlawed by the Bill.

‘We have long argued that there should be improvements to the greens-registration process, involving change to the regulations not the law, but these have been ignored by ministers.  Our proposals include the introduction of timescales at every stage, empowerment of registration authorities (county and unitary councils) to reject truly vexatious applications, and greater liaison and transparency between registration and planning departments.

‘These would meet ministers’ concerns without rewriting the existing law,’ Kate explains.

‘Local communities will have only two months after the Bill gains royal assent in which to register land which is being eyed-up for development.  So they should be identifying eligible land right now and putting in an application for a green.  The cut-off date is only a few weeks away—by this summer it could be too late.’




Examples of much-loved land which has recently been registered as a town or village green, but which would have been caught by the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.


Barnsley, Cadwell, Cudworth (2009)

Bristol, The Green, Pucklechurch (2012)

Bristol, Whitchurch Green (2011)

Bucks, Pimms Close, High Wycombe (2006)

Calderdale, Crowtrees Lane, Rastrick (2009)

Cheshire West and Chester, Land at Flashes Lane, Weston (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)

Kent, Four Acres Green, East Malling (2013)

Kirklees, Clayton Fields, Huddersfield (2012)

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)

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, Memorial Playing Field (part), Steyning (2013)

West Sussex, Ramsey Close, Horsham (2009)

Windsor and Maidenhead, The Kayles, Wraysbury (2011)

Worcestershire, Austin Rise, Lickey Hills (2011)

Notes for editors

1.         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.

2.         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.  Once registered the land is protected from development by nineteenth-century legislation.



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).

Growth & Infrastructure Bill –

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