The English village green: the OSS is urging local people to register theirs

The English village green: the OSS is urging local people to register theirs

Britain’s oldest national conservation group is urging the public to register the country’s greens before they are threatened with development.

The Open Spaces Society said new neighbourhood development plans, introduced under last year’s Localism Act, allow communities in England to identify where building should or should not take place.

But the society pointed out that the law prevents development on land registered as a village or town green, and said the new provisions provide an opportunity for local people to get areas registered and so protect them.

To be registered as a green, land must have been used by local people to enjoy informal recreation for 20 years, without being stopped or given permission.

OSS general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “It is vital that local people identify those areas of land where they have enjoyed at least 20 years of informal recreation, before the land is threatened with development.

“Then they can apply to register them as greens and protect the land and their rights for the future. Once planning permission has been given it may be too late.

“The new neighbourhood development plans provide a wonderful opportunity for people to think about how they use the land in their area and, if they believe they have land which qualifies as a green, to gather evidence of its use and submit an application to the county or unitary council to register it as a green.”

She said the charity can support locals who want to register greens.

“The Open Spaces Society can help people through the process,” Ms Ashbrook said. “We urge them to start now. Make 2012 the Year of the Town and Village Green.”

However, she warned that Government plans may put an end to the present system.

“The process is under threat. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under pressure from developers, is reviewing the system for registering land as a green with a view to making it more difficult and restricted.

“So you need to get in now with applications based on good evidence.”

The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them, throughout England and Wales.

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