Town and village greens: how to register

Information and guidance on registering land as a town or village green.


The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 has made a number of significant changes to the law on registering new town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006.

Section 16 of the 2013 Act inserted new Section 15C and Schedule 1A into the 2006 Act, which exclude the right to apply for the registration of land in England as a town or village green where a trigger event has occurred in relation to the land. The right to apply for registration of the land as a green remains excluded unless and until a terminating event occurs in relation to the land. Trigger and terminating events are set out in Schedule 1A to the 2006 Act and broadly relate to whether land is identified for potential development in the planning system.

The other changes were:

  • the period of grace, where recreational use of the land as of right has ceased before an application was made, has been reduced to one year;
  • sections 15A and 15B of the 2006 Act introduced ‘landowner statements’ and the registers for recording them. Landowner statements can prevent land being registered as a town or village green; and
  • minor amendments to section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, which allows landowners to prevent the dedication of their land as highway, to align it with landowner statements. The relevant period for declarations was extended to 20 years. A single application form (CA16) allows for highways statements and declarations, and landowner statements.
  • We have published the application form CA16.
  • Guidance to Commons Registration Authorities in England on Sections 15A to 15C of the Commons Act 2006 has also been published.

Applying to register land as a town or village green

Town and village greens developed under customary law as areas of land where local people indulged in lawful sports and pastimes. These might include organised or ad-hoc games, picnics, fetes and similar activities. Most greens were registered in the late 1960s under the Commons Registration Act 1965. Provided the right to apply has not been excluded (see overview above), anyone can apply under section 15(1) of the Commons Act 2006 to register land as a green if it has been used by local people for lawful sports and pastimes ‘as of right’ (ie without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years.

Please see below for guidance on applications - but note that different rules apply in following pioneer areas:

  • Devon (but not including unitary authorities)
  • Kent (but not including unitary authorities)
  • Cornwall
  • Hertfordshire
  • Herefordshire
  • Lancashire (but not Blackpool), and
  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Cumbria
  • North Yorkshire

If your application relates to land in one of these areas, you should go to the guidance in the Pioneer areas section.

There is an alternative means of protecting land through the planning system. The new Local Green Space designation empowers local communities to protect green spaces of local importance without the need to meet strict statutory criteria. Sites may be designated for a variety of reasons, including their setting, nature conservation benefits, or their quietness. Local communities will be able to identify green spaces through their local and neighbourhood plans, which will then receive protection equivalent to Green Belt, ruling out new development other than in very special circumstances. Consideration within the local planning process will ensure that the new designation will complement and not undermine investment in homes, jobs and other essential services.

Pioneer areas

In relation to the pioneers areas for Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 (see the list above under Applying to register land as a town or village green) the procedures, forms and guidance for applications under section 15 have been revised, and are now contained in the Guidance to Applicants in the pilot implementation areas - you should not use any other guidance or forms for applications in the pilot implementation areas.

Management and protection of registered town and village greens

Defra published guidance (PDF, 117 KB, 10 pages) which answers some of the questions which we most frequently get asked in relation to the management and protection of town and village greens.

Study of town and village greens registration system

In March 2009 Defra commissioned the Countryside and Community Research Institute to undertake a research study to examine the land type and use of a sample of sites claimed in recent applications to register new greens, as well as whether those sites were earmarked for development and, where applicable, the reasons for the failure of the applications.

Registration of new greens: 2013 survey

In late 2013 Defra undertook a repeat survey of commons registration authorities in England to establish the level of activity relating to new greens applications. Responses were received from 29% of authorities. The data is considered to be reasonably representative of all authorities in England and the results have been scaled-up to estimate the activity throughout England.

Town and village green research project - 2006

The final report, of a research project by ADAS UK Ltd to improve the practical evidence base on town and village greens.

Database of registered town or village greens

A database of registered town or village greens in England is available. The data was gathered by the University of Aberystwyth in connection with, but not as part of, the biological survey of common land. The data was gathered in the late 1980s, and is not kept up-to-date.

Adverse possession on town or village greens

See the guidance note on adverse possession for more information.

Vehicle access to property across a town or village green

See the guidance on vehicle access to property for more information.

Published 9 April 2013
Last updated 1 July 2014 + show all updates
  1. Added information about 2013 survey on registration of new greens.

  2. Replaced Guidance notes document under the heading 'Applying to register land as a town or village green'

  3. Added a link to the 'Application for the registration of land as a town or village green'.

  4. Amended to reflect changes that come into effect from today (1 October) under Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.

  5. Added link to the Interim Guidance to Commons Registration Authorities on Section 15C of the Commons Act 2006

  6. First published.