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Land can be registered as a green if it has been used by local people for recreation ‘as of right’ (i.e. without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years. For an application to succeed, the applicant must establish that the land in question comes entirely within the Commons Act 2006 definition, ie.
(a) a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years; and
(b) they continue to do so at the time of the application in accordance with section 15(2) or where they have ceased to do so the application must be made within the time specified in section 15(3) or 15(4)
Who can apply to register land as a town and village green?
Anyone can apply to have land registered as a green if it meets the statutory criteria.
In addition, under section 15(8), the owner of land may voluntarily apply to register that land as a green for use by local people (without any need to show previous use of the land for sports and pastimes). However, if the land is leased for more than a seven-year term, or subject to a charge (or mortgage), then the consent of the leaseholder or chargeholder must first be obtained.
How is an application made?
Any person may apply to their commons registration authority. The registration authority for the Bristol area is Bristol City Council. The applicant must provide evidence of the nature and extent of use of the land sufficient to satisfy the registration criteria.
How does the commons registration authority make its decision?
In its capacity as commons registration authority, the city council has to decide whether the land comes within the applicable s.15 Commons Act 2006 definition. It must consider objectively and impartially all applications for registration on their merits, taking into account any objections and any other relevant considerations.
The law does not lay down a statutory process for determining these applications. This means it is up to the city council to decide what process to follow. It is essential that this process is fair to both applicants and objectors.
Except in very straightforward cases, the usual practice of the city council has been to instruct a legally qualified inspector to consider the application. The inspector considers the evidence and advises the commons registration authority as to whether or not the land should be registered as a town and village green. In particularly complex cases, the inspector holds an oral inquiry to consider disputed evidence. The final decision is then taken by the council’s Public Rights of Way and Greens Committee (PROWG) which takes into account the inspector’s recommendations. PROWG is a committee of councillors from all political groups represented on the council.
The Revised procedure has been approved. Download a copy from the Related Documents section on this page.