The DCLG has launched the latest in a series of consultations on registering village greens. At present, the main legislation governing them is the Commons Act (2006), which sets out the circumstances that can lead to registration.

While at first glance this may seem slightly obscure, the village green legislation has been increasingly used by communities and groups in attempts to block (or at least stall) developments. If an area is successfully registered as a common or village green then it effectively belongs to the local community no matter who holds the actual deeds. As such, development of the land is prevented as it is held for the common good. All communities needed to do was to prove that the land in question had been freely and openly used by the local community for a period of at least 20 years.

Following consultation by DEFRA in 2011, restrictions on commons registrations were adopted in the Growth and Infrastructure Act, which gained Royal Assent this year. These provisions stated that applications to register land as a village green would not be considered if they were made after a ‘trigger event’ made public the intention to develop the land and that this exclusion remains in place until a ‘terminating event’ such as refusal of planning consent occurs.

The newly announced consultation is around the designation of new triggering and terminating events. Both focus on whether the drafting or revoking of Local Plans (LPs) and Neighbourhood Plans (NPs) should constitute trigger/termination events. LPs allow councils to ease planning restrictions by introducing permitted development rights. NPs are similar but are made by local community neighbourhood planning forums. The proposals under consideration are for the As such, both LPs and NPs can cover considerable areas and identify multiple sites for potential development, which is in stark contrast to the current site-by-site basis and it follows it would see a significant further restriction on communities’ abilities to register new commons.

The consultation runs until 19 August and can be found here.