Commons Act 2006 - Common Land, Town and Village Greens

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council is responsible for holding and maintaining the Register of Common Land and Village Greens.

This is a statutory document that provides a record of all the registered pieces of common land and village greens across the area.

What is Common Land?

Common land is sometimes used to describe land in public ownership or land that everyone has access to.

It is neither. Land must be legally registered as a ‘Common’ before this description applies.

People often think that any person can enter common land. This is not always the case, but under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 there is now a public right of access to nearly all common land.

The laws that apply to common land are often the same as for any other piece of private land, except for certain people who have ‘commoners’ rights’.

This is a complex part of the law, and readers should seek local advice what they think might be common land before using it.

Commons pre-date parliament, and even the monarchy. They are left over from the times when land was mainly 'wild' and ownerless. The manorial system appointed owners to the land but the peasantry kept their customary rights – ‘commoners’ rights’

There are six types of common rights:

  • Pasture – the right to graze animals
  • Pannage – the right to let your pigs go and eat acorns and beech mast
  • Estovers – the right to take fallen branches or bracken
  • Turbary – the right to dig turf or peat for use as fuel or for thatching
  • Piscary – the right to take fish
  • Common in the soil – the right to take stone, sand or minerals.

What is a Town or Village Green?

Village greens have their origins in the manorial system introduced by the Norman Conquest in 1066. Most of which may at one time have formed part of open, uncultivated and unoccupied land belonging to a manor or estate. Use of the land for sports and pastimes by local inhabitants was tolerated by the Lord of the manor and over many years the local people could claim rights to use the land for recreation.

The traditional green was a communal area where people could gather to play games, dance and exercise. Greens were also the location for services such as the village well or where justice as dispensed in the village stocks.

There are 3 types of town or village greens:

  • statutory greens,
  • customary greens – i.e. those based on immemorial use, and
  • prescriptive greens – i.e. those based on long user (20 years).

Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006 sets out the criteria for the registration of land as a new town or village green. (There is no substantive distinction in law between a “town” and a “village” green: these terms merely reflect the physical setting of a green)

Land can now become a town or village green where a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years;

And they continue to do so at the time of the application; or

Where the cessation of use occurred after the commencement of section 15 (6th April 2007) and the application is made within the period of two years beginning with the cessation of use; or

Where the cessation of use occurred before commencement of section 15 and the application is made within the period of five years beginning with the cessation of use. (Subject to the provisions of Section 15, subsection (5) )

The owner of land can also voluntarily register land as a village green.

Notices

Notice of an application for the registration of land as a Town or Village Green
Land described in the application as The Field between 377 & 379 Highfield Road, Farnworth, Bolton

Notice of an application for the registration of land as a Town or Village Green
Land described in the application as “The Field” situated to the south of Cherry Tree Avenue, Farnworth, Bolton

Notice of Public Local Inquiry
Bobby Heywood's Park

Notice of an application for the registration of land as a Town or Village Green
Land described in the application as Cedar Avenue Playing Field, land on the south side of Laburnum Grove, Horwich

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