A recent High Court decision provides some good news for developers. In this case, a council appropriated land for planning purposes, which it then sold to a developer. Planning permission for development of the land was granted and the developer started work in March 2010. In July 2009, a number of individuals applied to register the land as a village green and in January 2011, the inspector recommended that the land be registered as a village green.
The court held that, where a council has appropriated land and granted permission to develop, the developer's rights will override any right to use the land as a village green. Although the development was allowed to continue in this case, developers should remain cautious when buying previously undeveloped land and take the risk of registration as a village green seriously.
What is the significance of land being a town or village green?
- The possibility of land being a town or village green is important for both the owner and potential owner of the land because of the:
- possibility of third-party rights that can be exercised over the land (for example, public rights of access for air and recreation); and
- restrictions on the owner's ability to develop and use the land.
- Prospective purchasers of land can carry out a search to identify whether land is registered as a town or village green. The absence of a registration will not necessarily prevent a future registration being made. It can be a serious problem for developers of a piece of previously undeveloped open land, if local opposition to a proposed development culminates in an application to register the land as a town or village green.
- A person may apply to register land as a town or village green where a significant number of local inhabitants have used the land for sports or pastimes for at least 20 years.
- Councils have the power to appropriate land for planning purposes. Where any land has been acquired or appropriated by a local authority for planning purposes, it may dispose of the land to secure the:
- best use of the land; or
- erection, construction or carrying out on it of any building or works appearing to the council to be needed for the proper planning of the area.
- If a town or village green has been appropriated by a local authority:
- if it has been acquired by a minister, it may be used in any manner by him or on his behalf for any purpose for which he has acquired the land; or
- in any other case, it may be used by any person in any manner in accordance with planning permission.
If you have any questions about the content of this checklist, please contact
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Stephen has over 15 years’ experience in company and commercial law and has a particular expertise in commercial property. Stephen’s wide-ranging knowledge and experience mean that he is able to advise clients on achieving their objectives across a broad range of business activities. He has helped clients of differing sizes – from start-ups and family-businesses to large PLC’s – and from many and varied business sectors, to achieve their business goals.
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The content of this update is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It states the law as at 16 June 2011. We recommend that professional advice is obtained on any particular matter. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising as a result of the use of the information contained in this update.