Common land - Common errors

The Commons Registration Act 1965 was introduced to allow the formal registration of common land and village greens in England & Wales.

Following the implementation of the Act, any qualifying applicants were able to have their land and property brought under the protection of designation as either ‘common land’ or as a ‘village green’. This would restrict future use of such areas to those set out in the Act and prevent the enclosure and development of such land.

However, when the Registers of Common Land and Village Greens were compiled in the late 1960s, inaccuracies and errors crept into the mapping, with the result that many properties, or parts of properties, were wrongly registered as common land or village green.

These errors particularly came to light during the preparation of maps under the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000. Examples arose where houses, gardens, access tracks/roads and outbuildings were found to be included in the registers.

The implications are serious: a property can become unsaleable if it is found to sit on, or form part of, a common or village green. Obtaining a mortgage for a purchase is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

However, it is now possible to apply to the Local Authority, under the relevant provisions of the Commons Act 2006 which are now in force, to correct such errors and remove land wrongly registered. Cumbria has a high concentration of registered common land and mapping errors are possible.

If you have concerns, our specialist rural land Solicitor Tim Labrum can assist. In the first instance, a commons search will be required. If an error is found, an application for removal can be made. The procedure is quite complex but if successful, will remove the designation for ever; releasing your land or property from a potentially unsaleable position.

Published 7 December 2017

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