Just the other day I stumbled across a series on TV about new build houses and how this causes a backlash from locals that have lived in the area for years and do not want to lose their precious nature to concrete and dust.

The show balanced two issues: UK’s grievous housing problem and fear of losing the greenery around us coupled with overcrowding the area, leaving no space to get out and enjoy the nature.

Whilst none of us have a right to a view, in certain circumstances we may be able to stop development or to make that particular parcel of land less attractive for developers to build on.

What are the options?

Depending on the title, there may be certain restrictions as to the use of land. In the alternative, the other two options are:

  • Check whether the parcel of land is registered as a “common”

Rights of “common land” typically mean a right to graze animals, to fish, dig turf, take wood or sand etc. However, the Commons Act 2006 provides that new rights of common may only be created by statute or by express grant. It is no longer possible for right of common to be created by prescription. This simply means that if these rights are not registered, it will not be possible to claim it on the basis that you have been exercising them over a long period of time.

  • Check whether the parcel of land is registered as a “town/village green”:

A town/village green is protected piece of land for the enjoyment and use of locals. It is possible to register a new “green” provided the land meets certain requirements. It would need to have the essential characteristics of an “open space which by immemorial custom has been used by the inhabitant of the town, village or parish, for the purposes of recreation and playing lawful games”.

The core requirement for applications to register new town and village greens is that a significant number of the people that live in the relevant neighbourhood or locality have been using the land in over the last 20 years.

How is this going to help?

Registration of land as a town/village green is likely to prevent development and deprive the land of much of its development value because:

  • It is a criminal offence to cause any damage to the green or to undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place for exercise and recreation;

  • It is deemed to be a public nuisance and, therefore, an offence to encroach on or enclose a green, or disturb, interfere with or build on a green, unless this is done “with a view to the better enjoyment of such town or village green”;

  • It is an offence to drive over a registered green without lawful authority; etc.

The landowner will still be able to use the land just not in any way that would interfere with the rights mentioned.

Ultimately, one thing to bear in mind is that not all land is capable of being registered and there are certain triggers that exclude the right to register a new green.

In general, land matters are often complicated and as this is a rather specialist area it requires skill, experience and knowledge. Speak to Farleys Solicitors today on 0845 287 0939 or submit your online enquiry here.