A recent High Court decision has confirmed that land subject to an application for registration as a village green does not have to be grassy or green.
The land in question in this case was West Beach at Newhaven. The local authority had registered the beach as a village green on the basis of local residents’ recreational activities dating back over 20 years. However, the port authority sought judicial review of this as it wished to fence the beach because of the condition of the sea wall. The land’s registration as a green prevented that. The court held that the beach was not excluded from being a village green simply because it was a beach; nor was it excluded because it was a tidal beach wholly covered in water for part of the day.
The decision in this case will be seen by land developers as a further relaxation of the law surrounding town or village greens. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 makes it easier for users of land to establish land as a town or village green if 20 years’ recreational use of the land can be shown. This case would appear to go one step further. Developers will await the outcome of the recent DEFRA consultation on town and village greens with interest and will hope that the law is tightened up to prevent objectors intent on stopping development from derailing projects by making spurious applications for the land to be registered as a green.
R (on the application of Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd) v East Sussex County Council