If land is registered as ‘Town or Village Green’ (TVG) under section 14 of the Commons Registration Act 1965, it means that, at some time in the past, such land has been used by local residents for lawful sports and pastimes for a continuous period of over a 20 year period and the owner must allow recreational use by the public to continue.
In the recent case of TW Logistics Ltd v Essex County Council & Anor  UKSC, the Supreme Court reminded us that land registered as ‘Town or Village Green’ does not have to be green.
TW Logistics Ltd v Essex County Council & Anor
The case concerned the quays in the port of Mistley, Essex. Although a working quayside, a Public Enquiry had concluded that the quays had also been used by the local residents for in excess of 20 years for activities, which included swan feeding, crabbing, and recreational walking, with or without dogs, and so had ordered the quays be registered as TVG.
The owner had fenced off what was previously an open quayside to minimise the risk of employees and others falling into the water.
The owner claimed that registration of the land as TVG would ‘criminalise’ its quayside working activities. But the Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the TVG registration saying:
“the law expects a degree of “give and take” between the recreational users and the landowner. A landowner can continue to undertake activities of the same general quality as before and may also undertake new and different activities, provided they do not interfere with recreational use of the land by the public”.
Similarly, the public’s use may change. Registration will have been based upon identified recreational activity during the qualifying period. However, once registered, the public may use the land for lawful recreation generally, but subject to the same “give and take” principle.
Developers used to worry that land they were developing might suddenly become undevelopable because local residents applied for it to be registered as TVG. However, amendments made to the law in England in 2013, and in Wales in 2018, rule out many TVG applications.
The right to make a TVG registration application is suspended once a “trigger event” has occurred in relation to the land. These ‘trigger events’ include cases where an application for planning permission is first publicised, and cases where a development plan or neighbourhood plan, or a draft of one of them, identifies the land for potential development and the plan has been published or has been adopted.
How can Nelsons help?
If you have any queries regarding the subjects discussed in this article, please contact either Martin Jinks (Partner, Solicitor & Notary Public) or Mary Gharmount (Senior Associate & Solicitor) in our expert Commercial Property team.