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R (The Church Commissioners for England) v Hampshire County Council and Guthrie [2013] EWHC 1933 (Admin), Collins J

DATE: 10 Jul 2013

A corrected application for registration as a town or village green (TVG) can have retrospective effect so that an application not duly made until after the limitation period had expired may still be regarded as having been made in time.

Section 15(4) of the Commons Act 2006 provides a transitional provision which applies where the use of the land for lawful sports and pastimes ended before 6th April 2007. In such a case an application for registration as a TVG must be made within 5 years from the cessation of the use.

The procedure for making applications is contained in the Commons (Regulation of Town or Village Greens)(Interim Arrangements)(England) Regulations 2007 which specify the form to be used and the information which must be provided. Regulation 5(4) provides that if it appears to the registration authority that an application has not been duly made they may reject it, but if it appears to the authority that any action might put the application in order they should give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to take such action.

The interested party submitted an application to Hampshire County Council that was within the 5 year period but was deficient. The County Council gave her an opportunity to amend the application and overcome the deficiencies, but by the time she had fully complied with the Regulations the 5 year period had expired.

Collins J held that there was nothing in the Regulations which required him to decide that there cannot be retrospective effect of a corrected application and provided the landowner is notified of the application there would be no unfairness.

Accordingly the County Council were entitled to consider the application as duly made as from the date it was originally received, and the Church Commissioners application that it was out of time was dismissed.

John Hobson QC appeared on behalf of Hampshire County Council.