You have the ‘right to roam’ on registered common land - you may use town or village greens for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’, eg playing football or walking your dog.

Common land

Common land is owned by someone, but other people can use it in specific ways. The ‘right to roam’ on common land means you can use it for activities like:

  • walking
  • sightseeing
  • bird watching
  • picnicking
  • climbing
  • running

You can’t:

  • camp on common land without the owner’s permission
  • light a fire or have a barbecue
  • hold a festival or other event without permission

Common land is a type of Access Land.

Town and village greens

You can use town and village greens for sports and recreation. Some also have ‘rights of common’ over them - like grazing livestock. The right to roam doesn’t apply to town and village greens.

Many greens are owned and maintained by local parish or community councils. Some are privately owned.

Common land and village greens near you

Find out where your local common land or village green is by contacting your local council. It keeps the ‘Register of Common Land and Village Greens’ for your area.

Each entry in the register contains information like:

  • a description of the land
  • who has rights to use it, and what those rights are
  • who owns it, or who owned it when it was first registered

If you own common land

The management of common land must take into account the interests of both the owner and the ‘commoners’ (people who have rights over the land but don’t own it). This can be done:

  • by the landowner
  • informally by landowners and those with rights on the land working together - for example to keep the land maintained and not over- or under-grazed
  • formally by setting up a statutory commons council - the stakeholders sit on the council, make decisions by voting and the decisions of the council are legally binding

Cross compliance and common land

As a landowner, if you claim agricultural payments under the Single Payment Scheme, you must comply with cross compliance rules across all of your agricultural land - not just the land that you claim payments for.

The responsibility for cross compliance with common land is shared with the other stakeholders. If the other stakeholders are actively using the land, setting up a commons council can help with meeting cross compliance rules.

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