Village greens: Court gives green light, but to whom?

by Kidd Rapinet on August 17, 2011

To attempt to frustrate a possible development, it is not unknown for local residents to apply to register the proposed development site as a village green. If they are successful, the landowner must not interfere with the recreational rights of the residents, and the developer is hog-tied.

The High Court, however, has recently sided with those planning developments where the land has been appropriated by a local authority, and then sold to the developer.

Peter Wood, a partner at Kidd Rapinet’s Farnham office says: “This case may throw up quite a flurry of activity as developers, councils and residents each race to act before the others.”

Land at Merton Green, Monmouthshire had been appropriated for planning purposes by Monmouth County Council, and the land sold to Barratts along with planning permission for residential development. The Merton Green Action Group subsequently successfully applied for the land to be registered as a village green under the Commons Act 2006.

However, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides that land which has been appropriated by a local authority for planning purposes may be used by any person (e.g. the developer) in any manner in accordance with the planning permission.

The court found that the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 should prevail over the provisions of the Commons Act 2006. This meant that Barratts could go ahead with their development.

The conclusions are:

  • For local residents: get land registered as a village green before it is appropriated by the local authority for planning purposes.
  • And if you are a local authority (or developer): get the land appropriated for planning purposes before it gets registered as a village green.

Peter Wood comments: “To use a sporting term, the judgement seems to mean: get your retaliation in first.”

If you feel you may need advice, Kidd Rapinet can advise on the latest law in this field. Call Peter Wood on 01252 713242 for further information.