Village Greens, Commons and Manorial Rights

Village Greens

This area has long been a specialism of many Landmark barristers, with all experience available at all levels of seniority. Notwithstanding the legislative changes restricting applications for registration of new greens, this still remains a very important regime with significant implications for both land owners/developers and the local community. Barristers act in many cases including:

  • Advising and acting for applicants for TVG registration, including the preparation of evidence and demonstrating compliance with the statutory criteria, and presenting the case at a public inquiry;
  • Advising land owners in respect of village green applications and how to avoid registration both by ensuring that any recreational use is not as of right or by reliance on a trigger event under section 15C and Schedule 1A of the Commons Act 2006;
  • Drafting objections to and settling evidence in objection to an application and appearing at a public inquiry;
  • Advising registration authorities with regard to village applications and resisting applications for judicial review which seek to quash decisions on applications to register land as a village green;
  • Acting as independent Inspectors holding the non-statutory inquiry (e.g. the village green inquiry in relation to land outside the Willesden Green Library Centre; The Common/Brown’s Copse, Winterslow, Wiltshire);
  • Advising and acting in relation to applications to de-register exchange land under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006;
  • Advising in relation to works on, or non-recreational use of, a village green, including rights of vehicular access;
  • Advising and acting in relation to applications to rectify the register under section 14 of the Commons Registration Act 1965 (e.g. Piper Land Developments (Solihull) Ltd v Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC [2012] EWHC 3111 (Ch)).

Examples of court cases in which Landmark members have been involved in recent years include:

  • Lancashire CC v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2016] EWHC 1238 (Admin), with the Court of Appeal judgment pending. The issues in this case include statutory incompatibility and the judgment is being awaited in another case where a Landmark barrister is acting, R (oao Cotham School) v Bristol City Council (CO/1208/2017) which also raises issue of the effect of signs, bias and permission;
  • R (oao Long Live Southbank) v London Borough of Lambeth CO/17042/2013 – relating to the application for a skateboard facility on the Southbank, London to be registered. The claim, which was ultimately settled before hearing, raised important questions regarding the interpretation of the trigger events in Schedule 1A to the Commons Act 2006. However, this matter is currently being considered in another judicial review in which a Landmark barrister is acting (C0/566/2017);
  • R (oao Allaway) v Oxfordshire City Council [2016] EWHC 2677 (Admin) which dealt with the issue of distinguishing rights of way from village green use (considering (oao Laing Homes Ltd) v Buckinghamshire CC [2003] EWHC 1578 (Admin), in which a Landmark barrister also acted);
  • R (Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2014] EWCA Civ 673. This is the Court of Appeal decision on the Human Rights Act/Article 1 of the First Protocol issue, which was originally joined to the other Newhaven proceedings but in the end did not go to the Supreme Court (and was not overturned);
  • R (oao Church Commissioners for England) v Hampshire CC [2014] EWCA Civ 63 which dealt with curing deficiencies in an application for registration of a village green and held that once an application was cured of any deficiencies it had retrospective effect and was to be treated as having been made on the date on which the original defective application had been lodged;
  • Leeds Group Plc v Leeds City Council [2011] EWCA Civ 1447- compatibility of village green legislation with article 1 of the First Protocol.

Commons and Manorial Rights

Several of Landmark’s planning practitioners are experienced in issues relating to common land. In addition, some of Landmark’s property and public law specialists also have considerable experience in these matters. This includes, for example, manorial rights.

Examples of these matters that have been dealt with by Landmark barristers include:

  • Applications for de-registration and exchange of common land under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006;
  • Works on common land;
  • Acquisition of rights of common. A Landmark barrister acted in R (Littlejohns) v Devon CC [2016] QB 1092 which is the leading case on whether a right of common over land registered as common land can be acquired by prescription after 31 July 1970;
  • The demesne of the manor as a ransom strip (the verges of unadopted roads in rural areas);
  • Disputes as to the ownership of sub-surface minerals, including customary rights to mine land;
  • Fishing rights;
  • Acting for major landowners with extensive holdings of manorial rights.
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