Common land

Registering a town or village green

Town and village greens were established as areas of land where local people indulged in lawful sports and pastimes. These might include games, picnics, fetes, maypole and country dancing and similar activities.

Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 changed the legal definition of a town or village green and sets out the qualifying circumstances in which land may be newly registered. Essentially anyone can apply to have land registered as a green if it has been used by local people for recreation 'as a right' (i.e. without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years.

Applications under Section 16 of the Commons Act 2006 are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate and further information is available at the Planning Portal (link opens in new window) website.

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 has made a number of significant changes to the law on registering new town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006. These changes are explained in paragraphs 3 to 8 of the updated Defra guidance notes. Therefore, if you are thinking of making an application, please check whether the land has been identified for development and whether a 'landowner statement' has been deposited for the land.

The 2013 Act also amends the form and procedure in England for depositing highway statements and declarations under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, to align it with 'landowner statements'. You can download the joint application form CA16 and see details of the process involved.

Land can also be designated a Public Open Space (POS) or, more recently, a Local Green Space can be protected under the community right to challenge provided by the Localism Act 2011 (List of assets of community value and Neighbourhood Planning). Town or Parish Councils have to make applications to designate Neighbourhood Areas to the Council. If applications are successful, Neighbourhood Plans can identify green spaces to be protected. Further information can be found on our planning pages. Please contact our Planning Department for further advice.

A landowner may apply under Section 15(8) of the Commons Act 2006 to register their land as a green, voluntarily. This is unaffected by the changes inserted into the Commons Act 2006 by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.

A copy of the Application Form 44 (PDF 377.2KB) to be used in both cases and guidance notes (PDF 139.1KB) are attached.

The Association of Commons Registration Authorities has created an Evidence Questionnaire (PDF 3.2MB) . The use of this form is not compulsory, but can be used in support of an application to register a new Village Green.

Other useful documents can be found on the DEFRA (link opens in new window) website, and the Open Spaces Society (link opens in new window) has a very useful publication entitled 'Getting Greens Registered'.