Since 6 April 2007, new legislation has been in force (in England, although not yet in Wales) concerning the registration of town and village greens. As before, an application can be made to register land as a green if it has been used by a significant number of inhabitants of a locality for lawful sports or pastimes “as of right” (ie, without permission of the landowner) for 20 years.

This is not altered by the new rules. What has changed is that the use no longer has to continue right down to the date of the registration application. Where use has stopped (voluntarily, or through prevention by the landowner) there is a grace period in which an application may still be made. This period is five years where use ceased before 6 April 2007 or two years where use ceases after that date.

As village green status effectively renders land incapable of development, the new rules present serious problems for developers who are now left “in limbo” for long periods without certain knowledge of whether a site is vulnerable to an application. Insurance may be available, although premiums will be high.

Section 15 Commons Act 2006.