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Town & Village Greens Update – Part II: redefining the process


This Update is in two parts.  The first focused on a recent update to the procedure for residents applying for land to be designated as a ‘town and village green’ (or “TVG”).  This second part illustrates two other ways in which TVG applications have been changed, including the courts considering the meaning of the TVG and new rights for a landowner to take preventative action.

The right for local residents to apply for land to be designated as a TVG is rooted in the Commons Act 2006.

However, in the 7 years since the Act there have inevitably been some changes to the regime.

We have previously reported that in fact even a successful registration is not failsafe.  One case demonstrated that, even once registered, the courts could reconsider the matter and cancel the registration (click here for more information).

Challenging the meaning of a ‘town and village green’

Interestingly, the courts were called upon to consider a TVG application relating to a tidal beach.  The question was whether this was capable of being registered as a ‘TVG’, and the court held that it was.

In R (Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd) v East Sussex County Council (2013), it was the Council that made the TVG application.  The Port however successfully argued that this would conflict with its statutory powers and duties in relation to the beach, and the registration was quashed.

The case nonetheless demonstrates that a TVG is not restricted to the traditional concept of a grassy open space nor one that is located within the town or village itself.  It is therefore not only the application procedure that is being revised, but the idea of a ‘TVG’ itself is being re-defined.

Interestingly that case also challenged whether the 2006 Act infringed human rights as it interfered with the landowner’s property rights.  It was held that it did not.

Landowner’s statement against a TVG

Part I of this update referred to changes under the Growth & Infrastructure Act 2013.  That Act went a step further and inserted into the 2006 Act a new procedure whereby a landowner can lodge a statement protecting against a TVG registration in relation to their land.

The statement and a plan clearly defining the land can be deposited with the local authority, which would then serve to prevent any use of the land by local residents continuing to be ‘as of right’.  As the residents must be able to show use of the land over a 20 year period for a TVG application, this statement would effectively ‘stop the clock’, with the hope of preventing that requisite 20 year period being reached.

The statement may provide that the land in question is not a TVG, or alternatively that only an identified part of it is.

It has not yet been specified for how long the statement will be effective, although a similar right in respect of highways provides that it will last for 20 years.

The legislation prescribes the form the statement must take, strict requirements for the plan, and a fee to be paid.

Any interested parties should look carefully at the particular circumstances and take legal advice.

For more information please contact Rebecca Freeman on 01789 206924 or by email.

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