In recent years, there has been an increase in applications by local communities to have land registered as a town and village green. This usually arises where the community has used the land for many years (apparently without the landowner's permission) for recreational purposes. The owner now wishes to build houses on the land, so to prevent this, an application is made to the local authority to have the land registered as a green.

The Government has published a consultation paper in which it sets out proposals to reform the application process. At present anyone can make an application to the local authority even though they may have little or no chance of success. There is no fee payable and people can make multiple applications simply to delay any development. In addition, the application is not linked in any way to the planning process. So a landowner can obtain planning permission for his development only to find he cannot proceed owing to an application to have the land registered as a village green. If the land is later registered, it becomes incapable of development.

The Government is seeking views on reforming the process. Among the ideas it floats are: the charging of a fee for an application; limiting land that is capable of becoming a green to uncultivated, unenclosed land; and preventing an application where land is the subject of a planning application or an existing planning permission. The Government wants to produce a system that safeguards and preserves recreational use of land but that does not delay or prevent necessary development of land.

Click here to read the consultation paper