Towns and village greens: clarification at last

By Martin Garner

An application to register land as a town and village green was once a dangerous weapon that could be used by anyone (predominantly local campaigners) to try and prevent redevelopment.

The law surrounding the registration of town and village greens was complicated and riddled with conflicting decisions. However, in Barkas v North Yorkshire County Council [2014], the Supreme Court clarified the law and simplified the ‘as of right’ test used to determine whether land is capable of registration as a town or village green and therefore cannot be redeveloped without the permission of the government. 

In Barkas, Scarborough Borough Council had been the owner of a field since 1951. The field had originally been acquired by the local authority as part of a much larger parcel of land developed for housing. However, the field in question was retained by the council and kept as ‘recreation grounds’ under section 12(1) of the Housing Act 1985…

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