Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Supreme Court decision finally deals with ‘as of right’ in town and village green cases

One of the early town and village green (TVG) cases dealt with land owned by a local authority and used for many years as informal public open space (R on the application of Beresford v Sunderland City Council [2003]).

In order to succeed in a claim to register land, a claimant must show (among other things) use of the land ‘as of right’ for 20 years. In Beresford, the court found that the local authority had allowed the public use of the land. However, despite the council mowing the grass and placing seats on the land, there was no implied permission given to the public to use the land. Therefore the use by the public was ‘as of right’ and the land was registered as a TVG.

That decision has continued to be problematic, but in R (on the application of Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council [2014] the Supreme Court has finally distinguished Beresford and given guidance on use ‘as of right’…

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