Town and village greens — a delay in rectification of a wrong registration is not immaterial

On 5 February 2014, the Supreme Court heard a joint appeal of two cases with different facts, but with the same issue to be decided.

If a significant number of inhabitants of a locality (or neighbourhood within a locality) have used land for lawful sports and pastimes as of right for at least 20 years, they may seek to register the land as a town or village green (TVG) under the Commons Act 2006. Prior to 2006, the procedure was set out in the Commons Registration Act 1965. If registration was wrongly made, however, an application can be made under section 14(b) of the Commons Registration Act for the register to be rectified. The shared issue for the Supreme Court to decide was whether a lapse of time has an effect on an application to rectify the register.

The first appeal involved a piece of land in Huddersfield. An action group had successfully applied for the land to be registered as a village green in 1996. The land was sold in 2005 and the new owners sought to rectify the register in 2010, 14 years after it was first registered as a village green. The High Court held that the land had been wrongly registered as a village green because it had not been used by inhabitants from a single locality. The Court of Appeal agreed it had been wrongly registered but held that the delay in seeking rectification made it unjust to rectify the register…

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