Town and Village Greens – what is new?

Two particular provisions of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 ("GIA") are welcomed by developers, as they limit the extent to which a town or village green application can be used as a tactic to delay or prevent development.

The first introduces a restriction on the right to register land as a Town or Village Green ("TVG") when certain 'trigger events' occur. This has been in force since 25 April 2013.

The second allows owners of land to deposit statements with the Commons Registration Authority which will bring an end to any accrued period of recreational use that might support a case for registering the land as a TVG. This provision comes into force on 1 October 2013.

Restrictions on the right to register a TVG (GIA section 16)

An application to register land as a TVG can no longer be made after certain "trigger" events have occurred, which include:

  • the first publication of an application for planning permission or development consent order relating to the land, or the grant of either.
  • the allocation of the land for development in a draft development plan document or neighbourhood development plan that has been published for consultation, or which has been adopted; and
  • the identification of the land in an existing development plan, in a policy which continues to be saved.

After certain corresponding later events, the right to apply is then revived. So for example where a planning application has been made, the right to apply for registration as a TVG is then revived upon:-

  • the withdrawal or refusal of the planning application; or
  • if planning permission is granted, the expiry of the period for commencement of development, if development has not begun.

These are significant limitations on the ability to apply for registration, and have been widely welcomed by developers.

Landowner statements - how do they work? (GIA section 15). 

From 1 October 2013, landowners may deposit a statement with the Commons Registration Authority the effect of which will be to stop time running on any period of recreational use on the land that may count towards a TVG application.

The TVG statement may be combined with a statement or declaration made to counter rights of way claims under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.

Prudent owners of land with development potential would therefore be well advised to consider depositing a TVG statement, in order to bring to an end any period of recreational use "as of right" and potentially prevent the accrual of the necessary period of 20 years.

Once the statement has been lodged, an application for registration of the land as a TVG must be made within two years of the lodging of the statement, although this grace period will be reduced to one year with effect from 1 October 2013 (section 15(3) GIA).

Please contact Lucy Smallwood, Head of Residential Development and Strategic Land, for further advice in connection with TVGs, at