(1) Shrinking Commons and Village Greens
(2) The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013

Shrinking Commons and Village Greens
The sad thing about commons and village greens is that they seem to get smaller over the years, rather than bigger. A tarmac footpath is installed on one corner here and a paved area for people waiting at the bus stop goes over there. One square metre at a time, the common or green gets smaller. Fifty years later, nobody can remember whether the tarmac was highway land or village green land and in 200 years' time, the green has shrunk irrecoverably.  Commons and Village Greens need to be protected and the people who need to protect them are the members and the staff of Local Councils.

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 contains three provisions which affect the registration of town and village greens and as such have the potential to limit public rights over land:

  • Firstly, section 14 of the 2013 Act reduces the period under s 15(3)(c) Commons Act 2006 during which an application for registration as a town or village green may be brought in England. Where the use of the town or village green ceased before the time of the application for registration, the application must be brought within one year of the use ceasing, not two years. In Wales, the period is unchanged. This section came into force on 1 October 2013. (See SI 2013/1488; see art 6 and art 14 for transitional provisions).
  • Secondly, section 15 of the 2013 Act inserts sections 15A and 15B into the Commons Act 2006. These provide for the use of "landowner statements" which would register a legal challenge by a landowner to any use of his or her land being "as of right" without the landowner having to impede access by physical means (this section is now fully in force). But it is not a once and forever mechanism - a landowner should review the position at intervals and, may need to lodge a further landowner statement within 20 years of lodging the previous one.
  • Thirdly, section 16 inserts section 15C into the Commons Act 2006. The right to apply to register land as a town or village green is curtailed in certain circumstances. These are "trigger events" and are listed in a new Schedule 1A to the Commons Act 2006. They include events such as the publication of a planning application in relation to the potential application land. (Planning applications are often the trigger for TVG applications.) If one of these trigger events occurs, it will bring to an end the right to apply to register the land as a town or village green. But note that, should a "terminating event" occur, this would revive the right to apply. Section 16 came into force on 25 April 2013.