Kings Chambers barrister represents North Yorkshire County Council in village green case

The Supreme Court has given judgment in R (on the application of Barkas) v North Yorkshire County Council and another [2014] UKSC 31, a landmark village green case with significant implications for applications for registration of land owned by local authorities. Kings Chambers barrister Ruth Stockley appeared for the successful registration authority, North Yorkshire County Council, in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Administrative Court.

The Supreme Court has determined that when land owned by a local authority is provided and maintained as recreational land for the public pursuant to a statutory power, in this case under the housing legislation, the public have a statutory entitlement to use the land for such purposes, and they accordingly use the land ‘by right’ and not ‘as of right’. Therefore, such land is not registrable as a town or village green on the basis of such use.

The decision will have considerable implications for the registration as a village green of any land held by a local authority that is provided for public recreational purposes pursuant to any statutory power at any time during the relevant 20-year period for the purposes of section 15 of the Commons Act 2006.

Significantly, the Supreme Court has further held that the House of Lords’ decision in R (Beresford) v Sunderland City Council [2004] 1 AC 889 was wrongly decided as the public’s use of the subject land in that case was similarly ‘by right’ and not, as determined by the House of Lords, ‘as of right’.