We can all be forgiven for thinking that Town or Village Greens should be just that – green. That is not always the case as recent decisions show.
You may be surprised to learn that the Supreme Court has ruled that a tidal beach used for recreation is capable of being a Town and Village Green. Newhaven Port will now have to re-think their plans to expand the harbour and their operations at West Beach.
Another case still under consideration concerns a part of the underpass at London’s South Bank which has been used as a skateboarding site for many years and which is a tourist attraction in its own right. Local pressure groups have been able to frustrate development plans by making an application to register the area as a Village Green. Currently the London Borough of Lambeth has refused the application and the result of a legal challenge to that decision is expected soon. In the meantime the area now has protection as an Asset of Community Value.
As in the South Bank case, historically a Town and Village Green application could be made after planning permission has been granted thereby frustrating and delaying development. By enacting section 16 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 the Government has given a helping hand to developers as it will no longer be possible to make an application during a moratorium period if certain trigger events have occurred ,such as when a planning application is first publicised. It remains to be seen whether this will be of real help in these days of pre-application consultations.
Section 15 of the same Act, when brought into force, will introduce a procedure allowing a landowner to declare by a specified form of statement, in much the same way as can currently be done in regard to highways, that any recreational use as a right over land is brought to an end thereby meaning that a Town and Village Green application is no longer possible.
Until then the only prudent course for a developer is to carry out extensive enquires at a very early stage.to enable assessment of the degree of risk of registration of the land