Defra has today launched a consultation on proposals for reforming the registration system for town and village greens.
The Government recognises that village greens play an important part in community life and England’s heritage. The proposals in this consultation will not prevent the protection of any existing registered greens and any changes to the registration system will not bring the designation of new greens to an end.
The law relating to greens is notoriously complex and there is concern that some registration applications have been used to hinder legitimate development of schools, health centres and other much needed services, even on brownfield land.
There is evidence that a significant number of applications are associated with development proposals, and once registered, greens cannot be developed, irrespective of any planning permission or allocation in a local plan. The consultation asks whether the registration system can strike a better balance between protecting quality green spaces valued by local people and securing the new homes, jobs and essential infrastructure the country needs.
Applications are free to make but are often costly and time consuming for the local authority, the landowner and others. The proposals set out seek to improve the operation of the current registration system, reducing the burden on local authorities and landowners.
We expect that the reforms will reduce the workload local authorities to deal more speedily with applications for sites which remain eligible. Changes to the existing registration system may also encourage landowners to provide new sites for access.
The new Local Green Space designation will ensure a strong level of protection for green areas and provide a sound basis to underpin our greens reforms. Taken together - the new designation and the Government’s proposals for a reformed, more rigorous greens registration system - will enable local communities to exercise greater control over decisions that make a significant difference to their lives.
The consultation invites interested parties to submit their views on the proposals by 17 October 2011. Copies of the consultation document can be viewed here: www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2011/07/25/town-village-greens/.