Manage your town and village greens

Find out what visitors can and can't do on greens and how to maintain and de-register your land as an owner or local authority.

Local visitors’ rights

Local people:

  • can freely use greens in their local area for their enjoyment
  • must act within the law and can’t cause any damage to greens
  • don’t have to pay to use local greens, but managers can ask them for a donation

Limiting and charging for access

As a green manager, you can refuse entry to non-local people or charge them an entry fee. In practice, it’s hard to do this because you’d need to prove that they weren’t from the local area.

The general public can access your green if they have a right to be there, eg crossing your green using a public right of way.

What visitors can’t do

It is illegal for visitors to town and village greens to:

  • damage fences
  • lay manure, soil, ashes or rubbish
  • interrupt others’ use or enjoyment of the green
  • fence in a green
  • put up any structure
  • disturb the soil of the green, eg by putting up a tent
  • extend the boundary of their property on to the green
  • take animals on to the green who may cause damage

You can take legal action against anyone who commits an offence on your green. Criminal or civil proceedings can be brought by:

  • green owners
  • green managers
  • local people
  • the parish council, or where there’s no parish council, the district council


Local authorities can make byelaws about town and village greens. Byelaws can help stop people causing damage to greens by making new criminal offences. Email for more information.

Carrying out works on a green

You must not carry out works which could damage the green or interrupt its use as a place for exercise and enjoyment. You should check if you need to get planning permission before you carry out any work. No special permission is required if the planned works are to improve the green for visitors’ enjoyment.

Contact your local commons authority to see what, if any, improvements are permitted. You can apply for consent to construct works on common land.

Owners of privately owned greens will need permission from the local authority to carry out works.

Driving on a green

The owner of the green may only drive, or permit other people to drive, on the green if it won’t:

  • harm the green in any way
  • interrupt the public’s enjoyment

Some people may have rights that allow them to drive across greens without permission. It is an offence to cause damage to a town or village green.

Find out more about vehicle access over a town or village green.

Registering a green

De-registering a green

To de-register your green you must apply to the Secretary of State.

If your green is larger than 200 square metres you must offer to register new replacement land as a green in its place. The replacement land should be suitable and at least as big as the previous green.

If the green you want to de-register is smaller than 200 square metres, you should still offer suitable replacement land or your application to de-register may be refused.

Your proposed exchange of land will be reviewed against the impact on public interest.

It costs £4,900 to de-register a green.

De-registering inclosure award allotted land

Some land was allotted under the Inclosure Act for the public’s enjoyment, recreation and exercise. If your green is on allotted land and it isn’t fit for its purpose, you can write to the Secretary of State to de-register it as a green. There is no fee to de-register land for this reason but you need to provide exchange land that’s more convenient and beneficial as a green.

Maintaining a green

Greens are often owned and managed by local authorities. Privately owned greens are sometimes managed by local authorities.

Privately owned greens

You can maintain your green in any way you see fit as long as it doesn’t interfere with visitors’ enjoyment. You must act within the terms and conditions of any legal agreement that your green is subject to, eg inclosure award.

Handing management over to the local authority

If a town or village green isn’t properly maintained, eg it’s not safe for visitors, district councils, unitary authorities or the national park authority may make take over management by making a scheme of regulation. A scheme of regulation can be made on common land to ensure it is well maintained and it can also limit works allowed on the green.

The owner can hand over management of the green to the local authority or they can refuse. Owners can also ask the local authority to run their green.

If there’s no known owner the local authority can take over management.

Published 7 October 2014