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Government Stamps On Village Greens

April 26, 2013







The self-styled ‘greenest government ever’ has passed a law which will prevent communities from claiming their local open spaces as village greens(1) and thus saving them from development. 

 Yesterday (25 April) the Growth and Infrastructure Act received royal assent, banning applications to register land as a green in England if it has been identified for development—even though it may have been identified secretly.

 Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society which led the campaign against the village-green clauses in the Growth Bill: ‘This Act is a kick in the teeth for local communities wanting to protect their treasured local spaces and to continue to enjoy them for informal recreation.  The government is tugging its forelock to developers.  The Act is the antithesis of localism.

 ‘Government claims that the local green space designation in the National Planning Policy Framework is a substitute for registering land as a new green, but there is no guidance as to what this is, or how it is designated.  Unlike a village green, the local green space gives no right of recreation for the local people, nor does it guarantee that the land is protected in perpetuity.  It is a shabby substitute.’

 Meanwhile the Open Spaces Society urges communities to identify now any local land which would qualify as a village green which is not yet threatened by development.  Such land must have been used for at least 20 years for informal recreation, without interruption or permission.  They should apply to register the land as a green before it is threatened.  Any applications for development land which were submitted before the Growth Act received royal assent will be processed.


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

 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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