Protecting your land against registration as a town or village green by those opposed to its development has – as from today, 1st October – become a little bit easier in England. It does, however, need action from you as landowner (or landowner’s professional adviser). You will need to deposit a ‘landowner statement’ and map with the appropriate registration authority.
Done properly, this - together with payment of the appropriate fee - will bring to an end any ‘as of right’ period of recreational use. (An area of land may be registered as a town or village green if it is shown that the inhabitants of a locality, or a neighbourhood within a locality, have used the area ‘as of right’ for a period of at least 20 years for the exercise of lawful sports and pastimes.)
To maintain the protection, the landowner statement will have to be renewed within 20 years of the initial deposit, and at 20-year intervals after that.
At the same time, the procedure for making s31 highway deposits has changed. Firstly, the renewal period has been extended to 20 years from 10, bringing it into line with the new town/village green regime. Secondly, there is no longer a requirement to make a statutory declaration in front of a commissioner for oaths, JP or solicitor; instead a ‘statement of truth’ must be completed.
Landowner statements and highways statements can be made using the same application form. Again, this makes life a bit easier.
Here, for information, is a copy of the application form from one authority which has updated its information pages, Hertfordshire County Council. HCC has set a fee of £250 per application (with an extra £20 payable for any additional notices that need to be put up).
We have already been discussing these changes with some of our clients and will be assisting in depositing both landowner and highways statements. Let us know if we can help you; in the first instance contact Julie Robinson (01775 842618) or Sarah Whitehurst (01775 842508).