New Law To Be Introduced On Village Green Applications

In a local community such disputes can cause deep divisions.

For many years such disputes have often centered around Town and Village Green applications. Presently applications can be made by local people who have used an area of land for lawful sports and pastimes “as of right” (without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years.

These criteria are blind to all other considerations, including decisions taken in the planning system, and Town and Village Green applications can be submitted up to 2 years after use has ceased to fulfil these criteria (this is generally known as the ‘period of grace’).

If the application succeeds then it can prevent any development from occurring on that land and preserve the land for those continuing activities.

Although over 70% of applications fail, they nevertheless serve to slow any ongoing development and force developers to incur substantial losses.

Applications which do succeed can cause development to be abandoned and further losses to be incurred as it can significantly reduce the resale value of land.

The stakes are therefore high when an application is made on potential development land.

Introduction of the Growth & Infrastructure Bill

The Government is introducing the Growth & Infrastructure Bill this year which proposes to make it harder for local residents to prevent developments through making a Town and Village Green application.

Under the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, it is proposed that local people will no longer be able to apply to register an open area as a Town or Village Green if:

Any planning application has been published or the land has been marked for potential development in a local development or neighbourhood plan.

If the planning application is rejected or withdrawn or the local development plan is withdrawn, a Town and Village Green application can once more be made.

The Government has committed to speeding up development and this is one of the key areas where it has proposed change.

The intention behind the legislation change is to stop Town and Village Green applications being made by local residents as a response to a planning application.

Under the present system it is possible for houses to be built, bought and lived in before a Town and Village Green application is made, leaving some residents uncertain over the future of their homes.

Critics argue that this will be a “Developers Charter”.

Many developers see the present climate as an opportunity to buy up open areas of land for future development when the Bill comes to pass, or to resell when the Bill passes and the land’s resale value goes up.

The Bill is presently in the House of Lords and it is likely that it will come into force later this year subject to being approved in its present form.

If you have concerns about an area of land near you which you think might qualify as a village green and which you want to protect, you should act now.